Brighton Fringe 2008
Around the World on 80 Quid
Venue: Upstairs at the Three and Ten, 10th-11th May
Festival: Brighton Fringe
Misadventures of an Irish gypsy fiddler journeying the world, playing violin and side-stepping trouble. Battles fought bravely against drink, drugs and debauchery are soundtracked with fantastic music and hilarious stories.
From the moment Aindrias De Staic leapt onto the stage looking like a gangly, fiddle-playing Javier Bardem, the audience’s attention was his. Like any court jester worth his salt, De Staic regaled us with tales of his travels using all the means at his disposal; narrative, poetry, fiddle and song and most delightful of all, Irish Gypsy Hip Hop, or Gyp-Hop.
Through the melodic and rhythmical beat of the stories, we travel with him to Italy by bus, to Greece on a cruiseship, by foot(!) to Dubai, on a wing-and-a-prayer to Bangladesh then on to Bangkok and Australia. How true are the tales? Who cares? The joy with such simple story-telling as this is that we can sit back and be regaled with tales as tall as the sky is high without any layers of complex theatrical device to work through. We can go on adventures to where dragons be, hear accounts of heroic deeds that will make our hair stand on end and our toes curl and revel in the absurdity of something that couldn’t possibly be true….or could it? All without any ‘Acting’ or stagecraft required.
Unfortunately for me, despite De Staic’s compelling stage presence, infectious energy and witty delivery, the stories he told just didn’t live up to the initial promise. The journey he took us on was more 18-30’s than Magical Mystery tour. I wanted to hear stories more colourful, more outrageous and more revealing than what was presented. The darker side of his tour, namely his battle with addiction to booze, was an intriguing and worthwhile counterbalance but was underdeveloped as a narrative through-line.
The sheer energy and likability of the man was more than enough to stop boredom setting in and the music and text were shaped with the natural beauty and ease of a born performer. His instinct for rough theatre was a joy to behold – notably when a broom and box become a ship and then a double bass on which De Staic plays a gorgeous version of The Kink’s Sunny Afternoon.
However, Around the World…seems to be a victory for style over substance. A stronger narrative arc and a more rigorous approach to the possibilities of fables and tales would bring this charismatic and engaging performance towards its potential as a theatrical tour de force.