Saturday, August 21, 2010

Edinburgh Fringe - Art and Second Star to the Right

Art

I managed to miss this show on Broadway, in the West End and when the Mirvishes put it on in Toronto. I did finally catch it at the fringe, though, and it was wonderful.

It’s a three-hander, and in this case was mounted in a converted hotel conference room, with simple furniture creating three different living rooms.

It’s the story of three friends. Serge buys a painting – a white background with some white stripes on it – for a vast sum of money, and this kicks off a series of arguments between the three of them. Marc is worried that he can’t be friends with someone who genuinely likes that kind of painting. And conciliatory Yvan is stuck in the middle.

Given its pedigree, it’s not surprising that it’s also extremely well-written. And very funny. And it was very well-acted, too, which was a treat. Yvan in particular blew my socks off.

A truly enjoyable show, and I’ve been recommending it to all and sundry.

Second Star to the Right

I’m not entirely sure what to do with this one. It wasn’t bad. It was odd, but not bad. But at the same time I’m fairly certain I didn’t understand it, and I’m not convinced it actually went anywhere.

Wendy wakes up in the nursery and is taken away to Neverland, where she is told the stories of how the Lost Boys ended up there. The cast was made up of four women – Wendy, and three others who played a variety of parts. The trouble is, I was never exactly certain who they were meant to be.

There were elements of dance, and song, physical theatre and rhyming verse, and it did create a strong atmosphere, but the meaning behind it was never really made clear. The dance in particular didn’t quite work, and I don’t know whether to blame it on the fact that the floor wasn’t sprung or on the abilities of the dancers. You could see the effort going into the dancing, though, which takes away from the effect. It never quite flowed.

The set was interesting, and more complex than is usual for a fringe show. The entire room was draped in fabric, but it had more colour and texture than the standard black theatre drape. The floor was laid with a kind of Astroturf, simulating grass, and there was a big tree made of various fabrics over a structure and draped from the ceiling.

We were greeted at the door and ushered inside by the three Lost Boys, who whispered in our ears as we passed. We sat on cushions on the floor. And at the end, a Lost Boy came and whispered at us that it was time to leave, but without there having been any blackout or applause.

It was interesting. Odd. With a strong style. But I couldn’t quite find the story in it all.

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