My Love Lies Frozen in the Ice- Ella Chapman

Word of mouth is such a powerful tool at the Fringe. Post-performances usually include the casts recommending shows to the audience to see later, or asking the audience to spread the word if they enjoyed it. All of which is helpful when faced with the decision of what to see at the Fringe (over 4,000 results can be a little unnerving). When I heard the high praises of this performance from my peers here, I had to see what all the fuss was about. As I was mentally preparing myself to walk in, I was greeted from the stage by the actors and was graciously thanked for coming to their show. A very nice touch, if you ask me. I always appreciate seeing the characters out of character to create a more personal feel. If I like them as a person and as an actor/actress, then I know I have seen a remarkable show.

The show was not a sold-out one by any means, which I think always makes the performers slightly lackadaisical. I really felt these vibes at the beginning but as the actors got into the groove, it really kicked off into the performance everyone was raving about. The audience participation found its niche right there. Whenever I see a show with great results in audience participation, I know that the actors are skilled in their abilities. There was the perfect blend of humor and sensitivity. My heartstrings were being tugged, but with a smile on my face. As a woman watching another woman on stage not being able to do something she has the full capability to do because of her gender was angering to watch. However, without this detail, the show would not have a driving force. Three men go on a journey of exploration to the Arctic in a balloon that flies free. A woman, the love interest of one of the three men, is forced to stay behind because “society would not be okay with a woman partaking in such an expedition”. Forced to stay behind and going mad, she tries to find solace and hopes that they reached their destination. 

My Love Lies Frozen in the Ice was one of my favorite performances at the Fringe. The actors really fell into their roles and it did not feel over-rehearsed. I was impressed with the writing; there seemed to be room to move within the script. Not all the lines were set and memorized. It was funny at times, and then dramatically beautiful. There was a raw truth to their performance. True love and true madness; where one falls from the other. From a more detailed perspective, it touched on 19th-century medical science and what that means for the contemporary world, national pride, and what becomes of a good adventure. 

I would see this performance again if not for the sheer talent that is incredibly evident. Witnessing the raw emotion and the tears that came to their eyes at certain points convinced me that what the audience experienced and what the performers left was a gift.

 

Sea Sick

Nitasha Borchert

The main thing about performance studies that I learned this past week is the impact that it leaves on the audience. I had an idea about the art of performance, but it did not hit me until watching the show Sea Sick. I was emotionally moved by Alanna Mitchell, so impacted that it pushes me to want more.

I want more growth, knowledge, and many more answers after having the honor of listening to such of an amazing human being. Alanna hated the idea of being in front of a crowd. Although she knew if she did not share her research with others, who would? That right there is the reason why performing your story to others can be so critical. Being bright enough to think critically, ask some of the deepest questions, and turn it into a story for many to watch amazes me.

The whole script to her performance consisted of an advocacy for climate change. She took what she was advocating and put it into an hour-long performance. With many personal stories about what got her to where she is today. There are even more facts about why she is promoting this whole new picture internationally.

Practically every second of her performance was filled with more information to where it was flooding into my head almost as if a dam just gave way. I think she accomplished everything she wanted to by the end of the show. She left behind a crowd with ambition, more knowledge, and pure satisfaction. All to think it started with a simple question that seemed to haunt her. To where she ended up today, in front of many people, advocating for the result of her question. She answered her own scientific questions not only for you, or me, but the whole world.

She used mostly verbal communication but also nonverbal. I could see that in her heart she truly cared about the story she was trying to share with us. Like I said earlier this was not something she took an interest in doing. Standing in front of a crowd with many eyes watching her, as she pours out most of her life research to us. Alanna was more than ready for questions and comments at the end of the performance and could fully articulate what anyone asked.

After watching Alanna, I am excited to learn more about her and the five books she has written. I can vouch that I have already investigated the first book of hers that I plan on buying as soon as I return to the states. She is a wealth of knowledge I will take advantage of, as so should you. It took years to get to where she is at today and she should take self-importance out of doing so.

I would like to step out of the boundaries of “the norm” that our society has made. Scratch that, I am going to step out of the boundaries of “the norm”. That is why I urge everyone to take time out of their hectic lives and learn about her and the movement she is pushing for. I do not think there could be an ounce of regret if you do. I give this performance a five start review without any doubt. Sea Sick is the first type of sick feeling that we could all nurture from.

Disarming hate in performance

Written by: Evan Kohne

 

Is it possible to tackle the oratorical allure of cults without speaking? Reetta Honkakoski Company and From Start To Finnish’s production of The Desk. Set in an unnamed cult, this ensemble work reveals the seductive and dangerous ways cults become so powerful, all without uttering a word during the performance. Based on the actual experiences of Reetta Honkakoski, who plays the cult leader, The Desk is exactly the kind of performance this topic needs.

One of the great dangers in covering topics in public is that their messages are going to reach people through discussion of the topic. News of shootings in America inevitably include controversy over whether the media spread the manifesto and motives of the shooter to others. We rightly worry about the possibility of inspiring others to follow in the shooter’s footsteps.

The Desk largely avoids this problem by never addressing the content of the messages that cults impart on their followers. Rather, the audience only sees how these signals are sent and ingrained in the follower’s minds, and the effect this has on them. This is a thoughtful way to keep the power and themes of the performance. It is much more difficult for someone to come away from this performance with any goodwill or sympathies towards cults, but the audience does leave with an increased understanding about what cults do to their members.

If the cast had used lines instead of movement, having the leader lure the girls in with sweet words, danger would have followed. There is always risk that a few in the audience may hear the show’s lines and be tempted to find that experience for themselves. Instead, the show consciously counters this by avoid the problem entirely, and, in my opinion, making the harm caused by cults all the more clear.

The methods of induction into the cult are shown, and their ability to turn a curious group of young, moldable beings into a lockstep and mindless collective is vividly displayed. The individuality of each girl, originally very well defined, erodes until they are interchangeable. By the end, the curious girl and the obedient girl have become one and the same. The skill of the actors is on display as they can navigate the subtle character traits and show them slowly evaporating.

The power of The Desk comes from the physical use of space to communicate. The shows entirely movement-based storytelling allows for these developments in the plot to be cleverly relayed to a viewer. The leaps of logic that the leader asks of the girls is demonstrated by each performer physically bending over backwards. Their devotion to the leader is shown by constant eye contact and complete obedience of movement. Uncertainty manifests in snuck glances and quizzical looks. All of these elements create a story that is almost impossible to miss.

The Desk’s ability to tell a dangerous story without words should be analyzed by future productions. We cannot be scared into silence on these kinds of topics, but we equally cannot create more harm for our community. The Desk finds the middle ground where it can avoid most danger without compromising its story. I truly hope that the lessons here are carried to other productions. Perhaps then performance will help defeat those that would bring harm to our community.

All of Me

Written by: Evan Kohne

 

All of Me is advertised as a look at depression, death, and living with suicidal thoughts lurking around the corner. Caroline Horton immediately makes it clear that she has no intention of living up to the advertisement. With a loud voice, she proclaims that the audience will not be seeing “all of me as the poster promised.” “Sorry,” Horton adds. In fact, what we will be seeing is not a performance, but a myth, loosely based on her life, that will be freely flowing from her. Don’t expect something grand, she begs. Just be ready for something real.

Throughout the performance, Horton performs several smaller pieces, from singing her life story to using recordings to create cacophonies of sound. The sound is particularly interesting, for it creates the feeling of being crushed and incapacitated by the world. It starts as breathing into a microphone to create the sound of the sea. However, as more layers (seagulls, screaming children, crashing waves and screeching wind) are piled on top, the sound becomes overwhelming. The audience is brought into Horton’s mind and experiences the overwhelming sensations she is assaulted by regularly.

In her review of the play, Catherine Love notes that All of Me is messy, yet beautiful. It presents mental health not as a simple or redemptive story, but one that “ebbs and flows- as well as something that responds to the society we live in” (1). Horton’s show physically reflects this as well, with lighter and more positive moments giving way to her entering the underworld, complete with red lights, bass mic to lower her voice, and feathered headdress.

The audience should leave somewhat confused as to where exactly the show lands, but therein lies the genius. Horton reflects the feeling of living with depression and suicidal thoughts. Uncertainty is constant in this state, and to have a clear ending or resolution would be dishonest. Instead, it is up to the individual to find what piece they wish to carry with them beyond the theater’s walls.

Performances of this kind are so rare because they make performers vulnerable. Instead of having a polished and prepared piece to lean on, All of Me can leave the audience confused and disillusioned with Horton. It would not be surprising to me if several people left the theater upset that their questions weren’t answered. Of course this would scare a performer and discourage them from such a show. Is so much risk worth the reward we may reap from such an endeavor?

Horton seems to conclude that yes, such performances are worth it, for they bare the soul to the viewer. It’s honest portrayal of mental health is needed in an age where many performances mishandle the topic. But more importantly, the show succeeds or fails squarely on the performer’s ability to hold the audience captive with their performance. Horton succeeds in this, and keeps the audience entranced while breaking many of the written and unwritten rules of performance.

The need to tell these genuine stories is vital in our society. With so much of our knowledge based on the media we consume, having plays and performances that truly capture the complexities of life are incredibly valuable. Whether Horton is acting or not, the picture she is painting is real. It is a performance to the audience, and that is what ultimately matters. So long as they get a clear and accurate message from the play, then Horton’s less polished style is the way we should go.

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/stage/2019/aug/06/all-of-me-review-summerhall-edinburgh-festival-2019

Decree Absolute Vodka Review

Written By: Cassie Cormican

Divorce may not typically be a laughing matter. However, today I had the opportunity to watch Sarah Iles, a stand-up comedian, who talks her audience through the absolute joys of being divorced. In her show Decree Absolute Vodka, Iles begins by asking who may also be divorced in the audience. For a such a small venue, I was surprised at the mass amount of people who were. She cracks of some jokes to play around, and has the entire room in tears.

This natural story-teller takes us through her journey about how stand-up comedy became her life, and she eventually fell out of love with her spouse. She begins by explaining where her and her ex-partner had met and fell in love. Ironically, this was the same place where she had decided that she did not love him anymore.

For those of you wondering, a Decree Absolute is a court of law’s final order officially ending a marriage. Here in the UK, Iles stresses about how difficult it was to get a divorce and how the process seems to never end. The only thing getting her through this tough time; Absolute Vodka. Iles play on words as the title of her show was genius and humorous.

After going through a rollercoaster of emotions throughout this journey, Iles had shared quite a lot of crude and personal information about her now single, dating life. Again, the crowd could not wipe the smile off their face. During her performance, Iles pulls out a poster board and yells, “WE’RE GOING TO PLAY FAMILY FORTUNE!” Again, given the size of the venue and the amount of people there, I did not expect her to interact with her audience as much as she did, yet she even had a game ready for us to play along.

If you can appreciate the truth of how life knocks you down at times, Decree Absolute Vodkais a perfect show. Iles creates a space where the harsh reality of life is just something we must laugh at in order for us to not dwell. I applaud her bravery by telling her story about her hardships, and because I found her performance relatable, I had enjoyed myself even more.

Can You Escape?

Written By: Cassie Cormican

Have you ever been lost in an unfamiliar city? Not only that, but have you ever been locked inside an unfamiliar room where you only have one hour to escape? Here in Edinburgh, I had the opportunity to experience my first escape room. Locked in Edinburgh: Secret Lab, was a trilling experience that was constantly challenging my mind. As four others and myself took on this challenge, we found ourselves overwhelmed with clues and obstacles to pass.

Before we had entered the room, we were sat down to watch an informative video of why we were there and what our “mission” was. Although this video was full of humor, I had wished that the guide was more interactive and enthusiastic about what we were about to become involved in. This could have accentuated the experience by creating a life like thriller.

Teamwork was really the only way to succeed in this mind puzzling experiment, where my group and I had been tested to the maximum. This brilliant team bonding exercise proved that to beat the game, we would truly need to place ourselves in the investigators shoes. Personally, I had felt as though it was not a game, and that time was not on my side. These challenging obstacles had really tested how our group could problem solve, rather than testing the knowledge we have, which I personally loved!

This course was made for people who may have a bit of previous experience with escape rooms. Although, we were able to get relatively close to beating the game, we simply ran out of time. I would highly recommend this course when visiting Edinburgh. Again, I had really wished that our guide played more of a role during this experience, pretending like the investigation was real. However, this had overall been a great experience and I would most definitely like to try another course constructed by this production.

Well That’s Oz- Ella Chapman

Well, I am just going to go ahead and say it. This performance was f****** terrible. I include that curse with purpose because the performers could not seem to get enough of using it. It does not look very professional in writing; try listening to it for an hour. My first complaint. Swearing has a time and a place and can be very effective when needed. However, that was not executed here. 

At first, I had high hopes for this performance upon walking in. The pre-life execution was excellent. There was creepy background music; think Freddy vs. Jason or Halloween style with some additional moaning incorporated. Seated at center stage was what appeared to be the (scarecrow?) cradling and stroking a dead fish menacingly. Promising, I know. When Dorothy came out on stage being played by a man, I was excited about the new spin. I thought it was going to be refreshing… and then he started speaking. And then the show started progressing. I think that the only way I can describe it is to think about yourself taking LSD and then watching the Wizard of Oz on a bad trip. It sounds horrible, but it is the best comparison I have. Think Oz gone crazy. Oz gone mad. Oz gone dystopian. 

The plot follows Oz as if it were in a dystopian society. Dorothy and her friends never found and defeated the Wicked Witch of the West and they were abandoned by the Wizard himself. Dorothy still has not made it home, and everybody holds resentment against each other for not being able to find the Witch and defeat her. Now, they’re on the Yellow Brick Road eating the innards of a rabbit (the sound of chewing guts included) and arguing with each other. Incidentally enough, I sat in the first row closest to all of them and it truly felt like the arguing was directed at me. Exploring deeper, this may be because the actor and actresses did not intertwine themselves with each other. They did not bounce off of each other like in some other performances I have seen. It was low energy, but loud screaming to compensate for it. In some parts throughout the performance they did audio from the original movie with spooky music in the background of that. Toto did not have dog barks for communication, but rather a human-robot voice. Also, imagine Toto not as a dog, but as an animal from a Tim Burton movie on the stage. Creepy, I know. You should have seen the eyes. 

After the performance, I instantly remember thinking, “Well, there goes another childhood movie ruined for me.” I was sad to say goodbye to such a special movie I held dear to me for so long. This performance had so much potential. I would have loved to see a horror version of The Wizard of Oz! Horror doesn’t need to be disgusting and distasteful, which is exactly what I found this to be. The theater company had its own merchandise and website. That helped build their ethos significantly. Lesson learned: You do not need to have talent to be established. I most certainly would not see this again, nor would I tell anybody else to.

Decree Absolute Vodka

Decree Absolute vodka

(Dillon Stein)

Sarah Ilse performed Decree Absolute Vodka. The honest reason I saw this was because it was a free show. I didn’t know anything about it. It wasn’t until Sarah entered the room and introduced herself that I learned the show was about divorce. The stage that was used was a small room, that filled up rather quickly. Some people tried to slip in late but had to leave because the room was full. When Sarah entered, the first thing she asked was who has been through a divorce. A couple people raised their hands and the show got started. Sarah told stories of her crazy tinder matches, how she fell in and out of love and what she did to move on. She was a great storyteller and was very expressive, using her arms and facial expressions to heighten the experience.

Sarah was quite open and honest with her audience. She explained how she met her love in Edinburgh and were together for years. How one day years later she realized the spark between the two had been lost and she no longer felt anything for him. After she confronted him with this information, she talked about how hard it was for her to move on and how grueling the divorce process is. There are nine stages to it (the divorce process), she joked that there aren’t even that many stages of grief, pointing out how ridiculous that is. Also, how you have to fill out 500 pieces of paper to get divorced, she commented that they should make you do that before you get married, not after you desperately want to leave the legal binding that marriage presents. Eventually she saw a counselor who happened to be around 20 years older than her. The two got along quite well and that helped Sarah move on. Something Sarah did to keep the audience engaged was she pulled out a small piece of decorated paper that had the number 1-5 on it. The answers were covered, and the audience played a game of Family Feud. She split the room in half and had side A and side B compete. Side A kicked side B’s ass, nonetheless, it was a fun way to interact with the audience.

I ended up having a good time at Decree Absolute Vodka. Even though I personally don’t have any personal connection to the material Sarah’s fun and vulnerable stories had me engaged from start to finish. I learned a few things about the divorce process and as awkward as it sounds, was laughing while doing it.

The Outsider

Nitasha Borchert

 

The Outsider might have been a comedy and a quite funny one I must add it was also the dirty truth about Deepu Dileepans’ life. Here is a brief background for you to understand what I am going to write about a tad more. He is young Indian man born and raised in India. Who later chose to move all the way over to the Great Britain Luxenberg. Being the race that he is he often feels the vibe of an outsider. Hence the title The Outsider. Even though he came from a part of India that the British sort of took over, and he speaks very fluent English he still struggles with being racial profiled.

At first, I had thought he was just being funny but towards the end of the show the saddened truth came out and was very clear to me. All the racial profiling he continues to get as someone with brown skin. How sad, and unfair this is to him and many others. This is where our world is standing in the political society and it truly saddens me. Why should someone be pegged as a terrorist just for their ethnicity. For having a slightly different culture than many around him he would be spoken to differently in many circumstances. Not only that why is he the one always stuck doing random checks when getting on a bus or a plane? Or why is it so hard for him to get a visa when he wants to be able to have the endless opportunities as someone like me.

I’m sure many people around the world ask this question I know it cannot just be me. But if others are then why is this continuing? When will the world become a more peaceful place for all ethnicity, races, and cultures?

The Outsider was an hour-long solo performance. A very personable one, he took the time to get to know the crowd and of course give us a little “hell”. I must add Kristy apparently looks like my mother, but hey I’ll take it.

Once he got to know his crowd, where we were from, why we chose his show he began the real performance. A series of stories that show us what he and many others go through on a day to day basis.

It’s important for us to see what other humans go through on a daily whether it’s good or bad. The perspective helps change the mind of others, for the most part in a great way. I will hold this performance to be dearly and always keep him in the back of my mind. I will continue to ask myself how we can change someone’s feelings from being “an outsider” to feeling more like “an insider”.

At the end of the day each and one of us are human. It’s that simple. We all live off the fact that our heart is beating, and we are breathing. I hope for one day more people begin to realize this

Decree Absolute Vodka Review

Hannah Werner

 

Nine steps. Nine different steps is what it takes for Sarah Isles, full-time stand-up comedian, to get divorced in the country of England. With this long, gloomy process still in the works, Iles takes you through her journey after filing for divorce from her husband of four years, and the up and down process that led to her current mentality of peace and happiness. The title of this performance, Decree Absolute Vodka, ties into her emotional reaction to her divorce for she, admittedly, stated she could tell she began drinking too much vodka because it was no longer done “sociably”. This is when she started to see her therapist, Pam. Pam is great. Happy and married for twenty-eight years, and giving the best advice to Iles throughout their time together. Pam’s main advice was to stay away from dating for a while. This advice was not taken by Iles. Partner after partner, story after story, we heard the dirty, hilarious, and bizarre situations she got herself into throughout the process of her divorce. With her later seeing a consistent pattern in the men she was seeing and the “ghosting” she would experience (“ghosting” is a modern term for someone disappearing from your life without any warning or verbal confirmation), Iles, confused and angry, decided to ask on social media if men ghosted women and why they did it. She received a lot of answers and found there were five top answers. This was my favorite part of the performance… We played a version of the game Family Fortunes (similar to the American Family Feud) to guess what these top five answers were. Separating into teams, we were able to establish the answers (which I will not give away!). This was very engaging and it felt like I was there with her, and although I haven’t been ghosted before, I can imagine the frustration that would come with that; especially after hearing what she found to be the top five reasons for why!

Throughout these experiences, Iles explained in the performance that she is past feeling sad about being single and receiving the comments like, “you’re single? Oh, you’re so brave” and “I’m so sorry, you must be so lonely”. Iles explained that her story is not over, but right now she is happy and content where she is at. When I heard that, I felt a strong feeling of joy for her. After hearing all she had said about her experiences, I felt relieved that she was doing well.

This stand-up performance was comical, honest, and slightly pornographic. It all tied together to make a hilarious performance that felt authentic and relatable in a sense that I understand how it feels to be a woman and the daily struggles we face. Occasionally there were references that I did not understand given the English/Scottish origin, but I got the main idea. Fortunately for me, I had an amusing time listening to her story. Unfortunately for her, the law has now been changed. It now only takes 6 steps to get divorced in England. She could have been divorced by now.