FringeReview Scotland 2015
Five performers take the stage in a relaxed performance that takes us through the tales of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, his earth based handler and the attempts by refugees to reach Spain. Their stories are told to us through headsets which we wear in the auditorium as they speak and perform live onstage.
We begin with two musicians and as we are given our headsets and settle down the music is an apparent hotchpotch of pieces put together on the hoof, on the stage. They are eventually joined by the other three performers and once all five are settled we are ready to be taken through these two intertwining stories of travel and new found experiences that are equally dramatic. Kai Fischer has blended both to ensure we are always travelling in our heads and never restless as Gagarin goes to space, our refugees take to the seas and it all flows through our heads in a very heady mix. Gagarin does return, some of the refugees do make it and the whole experience is one that takes us on our own journey over space and time.
This is a very interesting concept and one which had me fascinated right from taking the headphones on the way in. I found the experience one that was disconcerting at first but then made me relaxed and more receptive to the piece. The first thought I did have was a minor and major one – accessibility. As the father of a deaf kid, I wondered if this would be accessible to him.
That having been said, the experience was one that held me as it was a fusion of ideas and snatches of conversation that flowed very well. I was aware of the relationship between Cedar and Dawn and the subsequent falling from grace within the Soviet Union of both but to hear these transcripts and to feel that there might be an issue with re entry that I had not considered was powerful enough to keep me on the edge of my seat – even though I knew the ending!
What was even more powerful was the story of the refugees. We disgracefully see political mileage being made out of their plights on a daily basis and it is good to stop, reflect and hear the human stories. The determination and unbelievable fortitude displayed by these remarkable people was respectfully told and with sufficient care that I cared more.
The performances were fantastic and whilst given little by way of opportunities to do more than stand up occasionally we got the whole picture simply told with the words being used to engage us. The music was great and the soundscape managed to hold us. Having said that I have to be honest and say I was confused by having a movement consultant and costume designer on board as neither seemed to me to be too taxing as jobs on this production.
The set was simplicity itself apart from the platform on which Ryan Gerald was sitting. When illuminated it gave you the complete feeling of him being in another worldly place. It was also helped by a tremendous backdrop. This changed from the stars to the world to the ocean in ways that helped further draw us into the world in our own heads.
Directed well and with a cast and crew equal to the task this was a fantastic night out. Innovative, creative and with a simple story to tell that was told clarity and reverence to the source material it makes me eager to see what comes next from Fischer’s catalogue.