Edinburgh Fringe 2010
This is a promenade production where you become the characters. Using Ipods, you follow the instructions that take you up and down stairwells, into shops and back to the courtyard of the venue. On the back of a two year run in New York, this company bring their Film Noir theatre experience to Edinburgh.
It starts in the courtyard of c2 where we introduce ourselves and choose characters from the story. We get an item of clothing and a specific Ipod which determines where we go in the story. There are various spots and shops around the Grassmarket that are used as locations.
On the Ipod is a screen and the movie begins in old black and white style giving you instructions. In between is music and clips that make up the story with characters such as the showgirl, the heiress, the detective, doctor and producer. We have to meet the other characters and have conversations that are shown on the screen, the drama ends with us all back at the Courtyard where the mystery is revealed.
Now this inevitably becomes a personal experience once you get the headphones on. For forty minutes you are really immersed in the Noir-ish world that is created by the excellent film and media design on the Ipods. As a piece of theatre in the broad sense, there are flaws, but ones that don’t necessarily effect the overall experience too much: Because your actions are timed with the conversations, it is quite possible to be early, late or miss it all together as I did, twice. You can’t pause it because it will put you out of sync with the rest of the players.
Therefore I was a bit annoyed there was nobody tracking me to make sure I knew where I was going (and I know Edinburgh well), as everyone has different abilities in map reading and taking instructions! Foreigners would perhaps struggle with this. I think this could be avoided with clearer instructions at the beginning, and on the Ipod: (eg. ‘Be careful not to miss the locations, make sure you look at every shop’ and ‘The railing will look over the street below etc.) but all we got was a quick glance at the map.
I felt that everyone had fun in spite of the game because they were acting and laughing at each other. So the actual narrative of the story became less important. What really worked for me was the sense of mystery and playfulness the music and instructions created. My favourite bit was actually right at the start when I had to follow another character, a simple act that was brought to life, fleetingly placing me in a kind of hyperreal world of film Noir.
Although I would have liked to have seen more helpers, perhaps other players in character effecting the action, and not neccesarily relying on having to time conversations;
this is a brilliant idea, and the technical aspect is very well conceived. Go and experience this for something totally different and fun.