Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2023

Flame Up!

Tricky Hat Productions

Genre: Community Theatre, Devised

Venue: Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA)


Low Down

Thirteen Flames tell of their lives through a mixture of movement and direct address which covers a diversity of topics from skinny dipping and getting arrested to a ghost story and 3am walks home through Edinburgh. We begin together in a hug and end there with this cast all of whom are over 50.


Devised over a 6-day period with a cast of professional creatives – director, musician, video artist and choreographer – this had all the hallmarks of a performance piece that showcased what turned up. There is a democratic feel to it which makes it much more authentic and genuine but brings with it the age-old issue with devised performances – the consistency and tone of it as a whole.
When it worked, it worked really well, and the performances told us age old tales comfortably. These were stories which had been told countless times and now we got the purple hair wickedness of a glint in the eye, as we discovered where American tan tights came from, skinny dipping – not once but twice – and the walk across Edinburgh at 3am – what was someone coming back from at THAT time in the morning I ask you! – was tremendous.
But there was some hesitancy elsewhere, and a lack of confidence, but it was part of the charm of the concept. You must accept that these are their stories and if there are a few blips, stumbles and confidence trips, it adds and does not detract from the whole.
There were some deft directorial decisions, not least when one was stranded upstage and needed to be brought downstage, craftily achieved during a sea story which saw their “rescue”. The video montages and the audio stories were beautifully imagined and added to the whole. The soundscape was additionally well worked through but there was always the feeling that in terms of movement and creative development there was more to give and more to weave between the professional and the creatives onstage. It was then that I wondered if a longer period of time together could develop further the integration between the standing-still stories and the movement and reactions of the cast. This was not just to see the collective moving as a single entity but more drama between particular members of the cast. Managing to go through each story in turn can lead to people trying to work out how many cast members are left to go and though I avoided it, at one point I was trying to work out from whom I had not heard. But then I realized it was because I was enjoying hearing from each one and wanted to make sure I missed none of them.
This did manage to work around the stereotype of the older member of society and show there is plenty kicking still to be done. It shows some promise not just as a concept but also as an opportunity to listen to people, interact with them and show the audience what is achievable and possible. As I wandered back to my car, I thought of the possibilities if every town in Scotland was similarly lit up, how it would contribute to the positive mental health of our nation and how the arts would be second nature to those who should know better. Oh and I enjoyed the experience too.


Show Website