FringeReview Scotland 2019
There is an isle, the isle of Brimsker. On that isle there is a lighthouse keeper whose mother was the keeper before her and her mother before her. One day, just before a storm, there is a boat that washes up on one of its beaches. The sailor gets out, is found and through that discovery we have the lighthouse keeper’s revelation that automation will lead to her being sent off the island as she was now redundant. The meeting between these two, initially spiky and resentful becomes a rescue from the storm where the lighthouse keeper saves the sailor and they both get ready to leave; the sailor to face her challenges and the lighthouse keeper to face her fears – both will be environmentally active for their futures.
The storyline may well be less important than the experience as the audience were captivated from entrance to ending.
The audience is brought in singly to sit at the edge of the stage. Curtains are given to our young people who are accompanied by carers, along with blankets for knees. There is care and experience at work and we are treated from being met at the outside to being sat on the inside to the music which hauntingly reflects the whole island of hope, mystery and the power of the sea.
The magic thus begun, continues.
I would never have believed that the shipping forecast for a PMLD audience would work but Frozen Light have been doing this type of work for some time – I saw The Forest at the Fringe in 2016 – and this was its equal in terms of experiential approaches. Tactile, auditory, visual, and aural were all used as objects became the focal point of the entire piece. The approaches to each audience member was indulgent and appropriate. Expecting and encouraging them to come onstage and not “behave” as if they were in a spiritual experience – like a dimly lit theatre – was pitched beautifully and correctly with skill.
The actors were all highly able to engage with the most reluctant and through communication directly to them, laughing and encouraging, even the most reluctant, by the end became similarly reluctant but this time to leave.
Singing their songs with their new audience, asking them to hold objects that were warm, vibrated and part of the narrative kept everyone in a state of relaxed enjoyment. If I was relaxed it was because this felt as though hours of work and preparation, besides the experience had been indulged to create an hour or so for people who would ordinarily be denied the entrance to the performances they so richly deserve.
Theatre has the power to capture and here it did so with massive success. The music pitched beautifully, the atmosphere bang on, the lighting and effects – particularly the multi coloured back drop – exactly like the radio – was clearly due to listening to your audience, consulting the research already done and uniquely responding accordingly.
All 3 actors were great, the direction as spot on and the physical set and props were stand outs. But.
The issue for me is a niggle and is one that opens up something that requires some form of analysis, I believe. The story had massive holes. How did gran beget mum beget daughter if they ever only lived alone? How quickly does your whole life turn on a simple encounter when it seems so complex before? Does any of this really matter?
I don’t know if it really does but I would like to know. I would like there to be a lot more of this going on, more funding for PMLD performances, much more focus on therapeutic crossover between social services and the arts where this does not become a treat I have enjoyed once every three years but something that my fellow audience members get weekly so we can work out what creative responses in terms of storytelling could match the creative experience of the physical tale they are telling.