Fringe Theatre Review Round-up

Blog by Agata Maslowska | 07 Sep 2009

2009 saw the Lecoq-trained Half-Wit Theatre's first Fringe performance. And what a debut. In First Class, they bring a wonderful explosion of physical theatre and unsurpassed imagination, as a trip to the post office changes Michael’s life. Bea, an unusually passionate postal worker takes him on a journey to Paris, with her playfulness and magic storytelling making Michael realise he might not be all he thought he was. This is a talented company whose intuition and creativity keep the audience enthralled. Truly first class.

Inventing the Sky is one of those over ambitious Fringe shows that thinks it has more depth than its banal reality. I was full of hope when the piece started- a slow surrealist scene on the beach promises an unusual journey into adolescence and adulthood. Unfortunately that’s when the interesting execution and stage direction ends. The whole performance is far too chaotic and abstract to figure out what is actually happening on the stage. And it’s not because the piece is open to interpretation– it simply doesn’t have a strong storyline and leaves the audience stranded.

My Fringe would have been quite disappointing if it hadn’t been for two extraordinary pieces of theatre. The first one, Belgian company Ontroerend Goed's Internal, exceeded my expectations and left me wondering about the limits of theatrical expression. Are there any defined elements of theatre? Where’s the stage, the actor, the viewer? What does the performance actually consist of? 

Concentrating on the individual, five lucky audience members are allowed to experience theatre on an intimate, deeply personal level. Not only is this an unforgettable performance, it seeps into you in a subversive way, leaving you thinking about both your ability to build a meaningful relationship with a stranger as well as about what makes performance art. Ontroerend Goed are certainly a theatre company worth stalking in the future.

While I thought that Internal would be the only ingenious production I’d have a chance to see this August,  Trilogy proved me wrong. The first thing I need to say is that this brilliant production offers more than the audience can comprehend within a single viewing. The narration, the execution and freshness of ideas – actually everything about Trilogy is superb. Writer, Nic Green wanted it to be an epic three-part interrogation of what it means to be a woman today. Although she isn’t the first and the last to explore this question, her work calls for positive change and is hugely inspiring. Trilogy is not only a complex and spontaneous celebration of women - it’s a compelling celebration of creativity, an unabashed celebration of the body, and an affirmative celebration of the performer-audience interaction. Simply, it is one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Carry on Nic Green, carry on.