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Across the Festivals: Freeze!

Michael Cox warms to the theatrical art installation.

Man balancing rocks on rocks. The idea just doesn’t inspire, which is why I completely passed it by when looking through Summerhall’s programme for August. And yet, out of the 1,000s of shows currently running in Edinburgh, Freeze! (***) has one of the strongest word-of-mouth praises I’ve heard.

More of a working art installation than anything, the show is exactly what it says: Nick Steur balances rocks on top of each other on six mirrored cubes. A pre-recorded voice narrates much of the action, giving facts and information, but the true thrill comes from watching Steur’s utter concentration in making the rocks ‘stick’.

Perhaps the show itself is a bit dry. After all, there is only so much concentration work one can feel engaged by. However, looking at the finalised rock formations, completely balanced in incredible ways, is certainly a wonder—a wonder that may not have been as palpable had the audience not seen them created.

For this, Freeze! is certainly worth a look, even if the running time in itself might not be that riveting. And do take Steur’s advice at the end: seeing the finished work up close and from the ground is far more impressive than seeing them from the audience seats.

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