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Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Alma Mater

Fish and Games

Genre: Drama


St George's West


Low Down

You’re given an iPad and guided into a white room which mirrors what you see on your screen. A short film plays out as you look around bewildered that the characters on the screen aren’t there with you.


You go into St George’s West, a venue which deservedly won the Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe this week for its exciting programme, and go to a small desk at the back of the hall. There you don headphones and are given an iPad which instructs you to enter a small shed. Inside, you’re in an enclosed white space, just you and the iPad – and the characters on the screen which grow to inhabit your imagination and the space around you.

A red haired girl appears on screen and beckons you into her world. Initially it’s a communication between you and her, but as the film goes on, you’re part of her world, experiencing along with her the world from a child’s eye view. Unsettling and creepy at times, this is like the best fairy tales that have that element of menace hanging just out of reach behind the innocence. It’s an exploration of childhood, of lost innocence, of taming of childhood spirit, of growing up. There are strange images which linger on – the mother’s empty dress on the bed, a mother figure made of dough baked on a stone in the woods.

The room itself is white with only a white bed and a white stool; what’s on the screen is initially exactly the same. But gradually what’s on the screen adds elements to what’s in the room: a pair of shoes appear near the bed; the bed itself becomes a iron framed child’s bed with duvet on it and boy and girl jumping on it. You go beyond the room into the woods, into the classroom, into the girl’s future. You’re inhabiting the same time and space as the film as the embroidery of what’s around you creeps up so you enter that world. You catch yourself turning to see where the characters are.

There’s a strange connection and disconnection – you’re there with them and you’re not. You inhabit your space and yet are part of theirs. The characters are there with you, look around and they’re gone. It’s a strange experience that feels quite otherworldly.

Disconcerting and more than a little creepy, Glasgow experimental duo, Fish and Game’s Alma Mater may only last 20 mins but stays on the fringes of your subconcious for far longer. A powerful combination of film, installation and theatre, it pushes theatrical boundaries along with those of our imagination. I suspect I’ll be visited by the images long after the festival has packed its bags.