Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Climb is the story of the roller coaster of relationships, told through original music and dialogue.
The first thing I notice about Climb is the host and writer, Duane Forrest. He straps on a guitar, plays a soulful tune, there is a smile in his voice, and I’m charmed. He has a gentle spirit about him. You feel like you are in his living room hearing his stories. So we settle in for the ride.
And the music takes us through the adventures. It’s bossa nova, jazz, reggae and soul, all led masterfully by Duane and accompanied by talented musicians Miariela Josid, Tyler Emond, and John McGowan. The songs are essentially a live album, with titles like “You Fell so Hard My Love”, “Can I Even Fall In Love”, “Wedding Bells”, “One Night Stand”, “Wonder-full”. The tunes handily carry the theme of the show.
Climb is the story of love lost and love found. Diego (played by Duane) is a singer/songwriter/multimedia artist from Toronto, Canada who always had his eye on the prize – a career in music. It is semi-autobiographical, with some of the characters as examples of who he met along the way.
Diego was a missionary in Mexico working with street youth. There he met the woman of his dreams, “Mariela”, portrayed by the beautifully emotive actress Sandra Aguilar. He spoke a little Spanish, so they managed to communicate. She was reticent to get involved with him, as she was struggling with her own difficult issues from her past. He was determined. His mantra was “like an apple in a tree, there are many to choose from, but you have to climb high to get the one that you want”. So he set on a path climb the proverbial tree to win her heart. They flirt. They dance. They sing together. And they become a couple. But like many musicians in relationships, his music takes him away from her too often and they break up.
Diego continues his search for lasting love, navigating the ups and downs of love connections and the baggage that we bring to relationships. He becomes a very successful touring musician, with gigs worldwide. Throughout his travels, his trusty guitar and his songwriting provide an outlet for his hopes, dreams, and frustrations. He is guided by the voice in his heart. The music that he writes really brings life to the story.
I was constantly hoping for Diego to find happiness through a perfect match. Diego captures our imagination and engenders our support. He is such a lovely soul that he should have a life partner who will capture his heart. But nothing is that simple. The journey is a struggle but worthwhile. Who knows who he will meet around the corner? Maybe Diego will find the right match on the next tour.
The staging has minimal props but they work. A suitcase doubles as a chair but also represents the breakup as one of the partners is leaving. A large black sombrero helps to create a Mexican persona. The lighting is effective when it is on the mark, but is sometimes aimed in the wrong places. The musicians are mostly offstage, but should be more present as they are integral to the story and presentation.
Climb was launched last year at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and is making its UK debut in Edinburgh at this Fringe. The show is written and directed by Duane Forrest with dramaturg Ins Choi, who created the hugely successful North American sitcom Kim’s Convenience. Choreography is by Giggle Queens, with lighting design by Yehuda Fisher.
Duane is now focused on the work that he is doing in Honduras and Guatemala with Genesis Community of the arts. The organization establishes free, sustainable music and arts programs in marginalized communities in Central America. He enlists artists to share their talents in and educational setting. He has a generous spirit and a warm heart. We can feel that in the show.