Fringe Benefits

Radical Theatre that pushes the format without frightening the audience? The Microfestival is something new under the arches

Article by Gareth K Vile | 23 Apr 2010

Frankly, it is her own fault. Tania El Khoury invites a single audience member to assume the role of therapist as she tried to untangle her current relationship. I think she manages about five minutes before I start telling her about my last relationships, my experiences in therapy and how I find Sufi music impossibly sexy. The thrill in these intimate pieces is the possibility of the audience becoming part of the action. El Khoury is probably cursing the moment I crossed her threshold.

The Microfestival is a surprise, even for the jaded Live Artist. Taking over most of The Arches, it has the feel of a community jumble sale, with Third Angel replacing the tombola and video screens the raffle. Stadium Rock deliberately accentuate this atmosphere by leaving items of clothing around the venue. I'd put on all my least favourite clothes in the hope of swapping a rotten old purple jumper for something on the hangers. As it turns out, I give away a t-shirt which reads "I Love My Vagina" and receive sly remarks about my new image from members of Rhymes with Purple.

The longest piece is Angie Bual's Love Calculator – fifteen minutes at a cardboard machine that matches me with my perfect romantic partner. I rush over to him, arms wide, only to realise that it is Martin O'Connor. O'Connor happens to be a playwright, and his girlfriend walks in just as I am about to invite him to Scottish Ballet. It's chips and home for Vile, again.

Disconsolate, I wander into All American Hero, a video of a man who appears to be hurting himself on purpose. Then Ed Rapley challenges me to a game, which I lose.

I shamble about the middle bar, getting a photograph of my soul – black, and looking vaguely like a nipple – write my secret confession on rice paper. That takes me up to twenty three theatrical events in which I have declared my love for the same person.

It's homely, and safe and gentle: immersive in a way that naturally makes the audience side with the creators. I am not challenged: I have a rather nice night out, even if I am disappointed that the Love Machine failed to match me to the woman with the short shorts and long legs.

Fringe Microfestival Run Ended.