These are the last of the Edinburgh reviews from Sabotage’s Performance Editor James Webster and his stalwart reviewer Dana Bubulj. We had a great time in Edinburgh, saw some amazing spoken word artists and reviewed 35 shows. And although this means we mightn’t have new bumper-reviews every day, we’ve got some people on the ground at the Fringe, ready to catch the things we’ve missed (although, still no competitive crop dusting).
Tina Sederholm’s vision of an alternate reality, the ‘Calorie Galaxy’, where the world is ruled by ‘The Thinners’ and weight is obsessively monitored and obsessed over, is a near flawless depiction of a world that is all-too familiar.
As mentioned in the review of the preview, the world-building is creative and gorgeous, full of clever devices and inventive ideas (the ‘warlocks of extreme pastry’ who create desserts to be admired as art and never eaten are my favourite) that highlight the way the damaging food-dystopia of the ‘Calorie Galaxy’.
What had changed from the previous review was that the show was far more smoothly performed and had been cut, stitched and streamlined (now coming in at a very manageable 45 mins) and this more focused performance made for a stronger show. And while there were still moments that were judgemental of the deliberately flawed characters, they came across as brainwashed mouthpieces for the ‘Thinners’ (rather than 2-dimensional straw men/women), which made for a better and more coherent show. I warn you though: it still carries a trigger warning for anyone sensitive to the subject of weight/calorie-counting or casual rape jokes.
The show’s message about the damage of societal obsession with weight and size instead of health came across strongly, with Tina’s language fluctuating from luscious to fragile and perceptive, it made for a heady mixture and a very powerful show.
Star Rating: 4/5
Evie and the Perfect Cupcake was on at 5pm at The Banshee Labyrinth and the last show was on the 9th August. If you can see this show in another venue in the future we heartily recommend it.
The Girl With No Heart, from Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players, combines live action with puppetry to create a heartbreaking story of a paper world ravaged by war where children’s hearts power nuclear blasts as they are torn in two. The puppet characters were stunning, and they were moved and spoke very expressively. The idea of the paper-hearts, which the children kept on their person but hidden, say on their sleeve, was reminiscent of Pullman’s daemons, particularly in the energy from their violent severing.
World building is introduced through the eyes of our protagonist, an ingénue from a parallel Eden-like world. As such, her wide-eyed wonder at the bleakness of war and its fallout made for a played-out dynamic, but it was rescued by the use of story-telling as a mechanic for escapism and as a way to properly compare the ‘reality’ of the ash-world with her own. There is a great use of origami cranes, both as a means of transport and potential escape and their relation to the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima.
It is a powerful and enjoyable play, but make sure you get a view of the front of the stage, because much of the story-telling is set there, and it is easy to miss a lot of detail.
Star Rating: 4/5
The Girl with no Heart is on at 5pm at Bedlam Theatre, from 9th-25th August (not 13th)
The Inky Fingers Minifest is running alongside the Fringe festival in Edinburgh until tomorrow (the 11th) with a plethora of interesting literary and performance events. On Tuesday Sabotage saw multi-slam winner Ash Dickinson, supported by Graeme Hawley, at Pulp Fiction Books.
Graeme Hawley gave a thoughtful and occasionally angry set; ‘Ambition’ explored his fascination with the people who place 6th or 7th and was a sweet tale on those athletes who train as hard, but don’t win, whose ‘fireworks went off in daylight’, ‘Additives’ was a brilliantly phrased poem using mayonnaise as a metaphor for all the things we mess things up and try to fix (instead of not messing up), and ‘Mosaic’ was an ace piece railing against debt culture, accompanied by an actual mosaic made of chopped up credit cards. That said, I feel with a better performance and more interesting language, he could be even better.
Ash himself (runner-up of the UK All-Star competition) performed an entertaining set filled with short punchy comedy pieces, including some great haikus, while his poem on ‘Shoes’ explored one of the few areas where men suffer more than women: lack of interesting clothes (though he may have overlooked the fact that heels can be somewhat painful). He does redress the balance with a nice, if simplistic, piece on women’s magazines, expressing a simple message of confidence and inner beauty that wasn’t too preachy.
A few of his other pieces were also a little simplistic, such as the funny ‘The Boy Who Ate Only Butter’ or the well put, but slightly prosaic ‘Status Update’. It’s not that that’s inherently bad, it just seems like he could have done more with them.
Where he excelled were his more speculative pieces, ‘Daytrip From Your Heart’ was a brilliantly realised journey through a loved one’s body, taking it in as if it were a tourist attraction, with an amusingly downbeat ending. And his poem on doing a life swap with the ocean was phenomenally imagined, with some lovely lilting language, great comedy and a brilliantly wistful ending.
Star Rating: 3/5
Inky Fingers’ Minifest continues tomorrow with guerrilla street performance at 2.30pm at a surprise location, then Poetry Polaroids (a great project of collaborative poetry artwork) at 6.30pm and the closing party at 8pm, both at Pulp Fiction Books.