Helmsman Pete: Postcards From The Edge Of The World! @ Udderbelly Cowgate

Wish you were here?

Feature by Mark Harding | 26 Aug 2011

The set up is that a trapped boy has abandoned hope of rescue, and instead of sending out messages for help, is sending stories out into the world. These 'postcards from the edge of the world' are then told and enacted, and sometimes sung, by Helmsman Pete.

Helmsman Pete (Pete Reid) has a great line in gothic and comedic. He's a powerful singer and he creates a personal connection with the audience. The show's soundtrack is excellent – at times it would make a perfectly adequate radio piece on it's own – and there's some bravura synchronisation of the sound effects with the Reid's acting.

The show itself boils down to the telling of a series of stories. They may be brilliantly told but after a while the quality of the stories themselves become the key factor. And they simply aren't strong enough. Each tale is an individual unit, without an overriding story-arc to carry you through the length of the performance. More to the point: the stories lack surprise and depth. Of the seven or so tales in the show there are two memorable exceptions that prove the point. One is the story of a SETI scientist which is given touching resonance by his own isolation and loneliness (like that of humans as a species?) – thought-provoking and entertaining. The other is a fascinating twist on the Pygmalion story. But it's an ingenuity that is not exploited: the section is over over in a flash.

Ultimately, much of the show consists of much of the same old same old. Yet there's no denying the performing talent and the glints of story gold in the rock. Lets hope Helmsman Pete keeps mining for more.

Helmsman Pete: Postcards From The Edge Of The World!, Udderbelly Cowgate, 28 August, 5:15pm