Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Venue: Teviot Medical school
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
A one-woman show performed by Melanie Wilson, Iris Brunette, throws us into strange, unfamiliar territory – a dystopian futurescape where the rules of engagement are unknown. An unsettling and disorientating experience, Iris Brunette is never less than gripping.
Melanie Wilson is Iris Brunette, a woman adrift in a strange post –apocalyptic city with us as her companions. Based on Chris Marker’s 1960s French cult movie, La Jetee about apocalypse and time travel, Iris Brunette creates a new world composed of Melanie Wilson and a captive audience, complicit in its creation.
There are 20 seats arranged around the edges of the room. The room is dark and light streams down in hazy rivulets. Audience members, already dislocated, take their seats. A strange soundscape surrounds us. Ben Pacey’s stunning lighting design and Melanie Wilson’s sound design transport us into an ethereal and immersive otherness. We are cast with Melanie Wilson as survivors of a third world war marooned in a futuristic city.
Melanie Wilson appears out of focus in the dim light. She weaves a strange tale out of nothing: an elliptical, fractured narrative that hint and teases. Onto her own brooding sound design and pre-recorded narrative, she layers shards of memories and observation. Then the room plunges us once again into sudden darkness. When the lights go back on, she has shifted places again. An intense and hypnotic presence, Iris Brunette is nonetheless a shapeshifting, elusive creature.
We are both her audience and her cast. As she makes reference to the cartographer, the iconoclast and others, a spot beams down to illuminate us one by one. Gradually as the show goes on, she weaves a story of a man she has once loved, a man she is following, and she weaves us into the story with a quiet charm and skill. Audience members follow her gentle probing and become both spied upon and spying – a strange theatre noir where we are all detectives picking through the wreckage.
This is not about the story – it is about pure atmosphere and shared imagination.