Edinburgh Fringe 2022
“Long before Private Eye, Charlie Hebdo, and even before Bill Bailey – there was Voltaire. Voltaire created the naive and hopeful young Candide and Candide has faith. Candide believes in humanity. Now humanity is on trial. Join Babolin as they test Candide’s faith in their own gloriously salty ensemble musical style, with a posse of potty gnomes, some puppets, a syphilitic philosopher Dr Pangloss and an Aussie aunt with only one buttock. Yes, it’s the world’s greatest satire. Live. Told the Babolin way.”
Babolin Theatre return to the fringe with a show created and performed by alumni students from Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge.
Brimming with the Babolin signature spirit of play and experimentation, this is younger theatre at its very best. Babolin Theatre are among the very best in ensemble physical theatre at the Fringe and even stand alongside the professionals in this field. Their work would not look out of place at the likes of Zoo Venues or Summerhall, spaces known for physical theatre and for testing boundaries.
Drawing upon the classic Voltaire-penned story with plenty of modern references, we have here a journey fable, with many successfully realised liberties taken, still drenched in the philosophical discourse at the heart of the original story. Are we right to be optimistic? Does everything turn out alright in the end because ultimate effects always resolve seemingly painful and difficult local causes? It was Goethe who said that colours are the sufferings of light. Nature offers us a higher, benevolent reason for everything, even pain and suffering. Do not even the greatest evils give birth ot wisdom and insight or basically put, ain’t it all good in the end? Candide sets off on a journey of discovery and I will not insert any spoilers into this review. But it was certainly no grumpy audience at the end,
One of the reasons they weren’t grumpy on the way out of this hour and a bit show was their delight at an ensemble cast who collectively delivered the tale, a riot of physical and verbal comedy, some terrific songs, set piece clowning, double takes, vocal sideswipes, inventive use of props and especially hats. The entire cast get to play Candide with the swap of a hat and the core narrative is only occasionally overrun by the noise and chaos on stage. A little clarification here and there would be achieved with less overlap, vocal cacophony and just too much going on at once. Less would be more in places and the narrative in parts might be clearer and more accessible as a result. That said, it might just be worth all of that for the sheer richness and generosity of content offered. this is a long, warm soak in inventiveness and permission to go for it.
The cast are very together, offering infectious enjoyment of performing Candide. We are taken on a world tour of philosophical discovery and final realisation. Babolin are back; they never play the whole fringe which is a shame. they deserve to play the whole year. My personal treat of the fringe everything they play. Babolin command the edinburgh fringe once again. Go see, of course.