Edinburgh Fringe 2018
A whale has landed on the London underground. As you can imagine, and if you cannot this is the show to help, communication has been disrupted. Trying to get from A to anywhere else is now very difficult and our heroine gamely and with much effort takes us on her journey from one station to her destination via a variety of characters given life through language and dance before the heartbeats settle and she arrives.
This is a dance piece that takes a little while to settle. It has at its heart an absurd premise that allows flights of fancy to be part and parcel of the experience, giving me much to admire and enjoy whilst always letting me know that surprise shall be part of the package. That surprise included encounters with characters that have been based on interviews with people who are not London natives and they have a very strong presence throughout. Accents, foreign tongues and the need to get from one place to another intermingle in a piece where the suitcase is more than a symbol of the journey; it becomes a companion, a place of sanctuary and the props cupboard.
The music and dance keep you in the moment and I enjoyed how Flarys has taken what is a strange beginning and made it increasingly important to her and us. It felt personal and it became universal as she was able to draw upon her expertise to make the props used – minimal but important – part of the experience on a bare stage.
When dancing the performance took on another dimension though the text became slightly more difficult to engage with – the exception being the rattle gun when asked about her ticket which worked very well. I found myself straining at times with the disintegration of the announcer, and though it is appropriate and bang on, there could have been more interaction between that interjection and the live stage presence; the disembodied voice more of an embodied function.
This has an absurd premise – a whale disrupting the underground but through its telling it spoke of people who need to find a communication with others to become more of the people they are themselves. It is a haunting thought that was at times given through the people she met on her journey. I found myself bemused with it at times, challenged throughout and it grew more on me as I left it behind and pondered. For a piece of absurd theatre, it is a great hour of your time but if you want more obvious meaning it will be a challenge.