FringeReview Scotland 2017
Five actors onstage waiting, as we are, for a beginning that comes through the ticking of a clock before there are jokes with one punchline, an interval for tea, some jazz funk and balloons and then some grappling with bark. It takes physical performance and places it central to an understanding of what we might be left with after we take out some of the sense and feel it.
I ended up liking this far more than I expected as I was irritated with it, within the first 10/15 minutes or so. It was ponderous and as we progressed a little into the landscape of it I realised that it needed to be so slow paced. We required that time to settle and contemplate, rather than march stealthily into events which were part of the performance.
For me though, that time may not be something my fellow audience members may be willing to give as characters form, relationships are established and broken in amongst the waiting crowd. For what they are waiting – the end perhaps- is never spoken nor explained and that lack of explanation for some may be a barrier, but for me was a joy.
The first section exploded into life once interaction between the actors physically developed and happened; it was then that I felt we got the place alive with possibility and hope – even though we then went on to hear about things falling out of trees and being DEAD; everything was dead. The start of the opening of the suitcases which had been trundled, carried and tracked around the stage was a clever way of introducing set and props when interruptions should be kept to a minimum.
The use of lighting and music became much more prevalent and effective during the sequence with music and balloons though the tea section was a particular triumph and I shall always put on the dishwasher now with a smile.
This was now a highly infectious and engaging work which made me laugh and smile over some of the absurdity but it came with the type of comic timing one expects from stand up.
The one section that I was less keen on was the bark section where I thought there was less of an ensemble feel which had been the key for me throughout the other sections. As it was the end of this thing, it felt a little less than the sum of the other parts. In particular, I felt that, having had the share of work between all five characters before that having two principals amongst equals jarred a little.
It was however a minor gripe because the standard of the work at the end was the equal of the standard of the work before. It is perhaps easy to try and outsmart this piece as there is a lot unanswered and trying to make any sense of it would, I feel be a barrier to the enjoyment of it. It asked questions; perhaps we should go and ask them too. Rather than seeking our answers, it may be more pertinent to listen to the answers of others; for that I was thankful I had seen this.
This was my first visit to a laboratory theatre and whilst it began slowly for me, by the end I was a messianic convert. The techniques on show are simply fantastic and the way in which art speaks without the dialogue whilst showing us the divine without divining the meaning for us was great. It is an opportunity I shall be repeating as they clearly have a new style that takes us to places of which Heineken could only dream.