Prague Fringe 2012
Pete Buffery gives a shy but likeable performance of his eclectic contemporary song cycle which reinterpret’s "The Knight’s Tale" by Chaucer in fresh original music with apparent influences of Radiohead, Morrisey, Imogen Heap and Bright Eyes.
In a comfortable and intimate space, the Malostranská Beseda Galerie, the audience sat chatting with singer/songwriter/animator Pete Buffery before his show “The Troubadour’s Tale” officially began. But this casual and personal introduction was in fact a great lead in to the show which was created by Buffery in his bedroom with a combination of puppets, cameras, computer and guitar. It would be hard not to like the well spoken and humble Buffery. He casually chatted about the Prague Fringe Festival with the audience until 7pm hit and he pressed play on his laptop. Before the show had begun I wanted to like it (as you do when you’re watching 5 shows a night). It’s lucky then that Pete has created a very likeable show. Perhaps the best part of watching The Troubadour’s Tale is the feeling that you might be watching a star in the making.
Pete was casually dressed and stood to the side of the stage with guitar and microphone. His singing voice is honest, clear and easy on the ear with some particularly beautiful colours. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s definitely within reach. Behind Buffery was a small trunk containing a series of puppets. These puppets, each bearing a photograph of Pete’s face with slight decoration, created the cast of the story which was animated and projected on the back of the stage. The animations are low-tech and clearly evoke the idea of the artist’s long painful nights of designing and editing and modifying while sitting alone in his bedroom. The medieval imagery of castles, knights, owls, forests and foxes provide an interesting backdrop to the song cycle which may not otherwise be connected with The Knight’s Tale. There are times where the animation become a little repetitive or slow. Everything is shot from front on or side on which creates the effect of watching proscenium theatre. Perhaps this is intentional, but it feels as though there are a few missed visual opportunities. Still, the animation carries charm and humour.
The Knight’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer tells the story of two cousins who are imprisoned by a king, fall in love with the same woman, and are then made to battle to the death. Battling your friend for a lover while feeling imprisoned is a scenario ripe for song lyrics. Buffery divides this material into a series of contemporary songs that could easily find themselves played on good alternative radio. Buffery doesn’t provide a clear retelling of The Knight’s Tale, but rather highlights and scripts specific ideas and feelings from the story, bringing them to life with simple but affecting lyrics. Though Buffery’s music feels fresh and original it still managed to make me think of Fourtet, Radiohead, Bright Eyes and Imogen Heap. The live guitar and vocal over pre-recorded electronic music create a truly catchy soundscape, which is what shines about the show. I was disappointed at the end to realise I couldn’t buy the album. But hopefully it’ll be available soon.
You can see that Pete Buffery is still developing his performance and that this show is new. But I’d recommend you see this show. It’s honest and relatable, and with just a little more confidence in the performance it’ll knock you away. You’ll be able to say you saw Pete Buffery at the Prague Fringe before he was an international star.