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Festival Reviews

Ashling Findlay-Carroll reviews Whiteout, A Plague of Idiots, Faslane and Only Bones.

Whiteout ****

Described in the programme as 'heartfelt', the initial choreography is exhilarating—it is not just the dancers' technique but their deep-rooted connection to the movement that is impressive. A series of bi-racial duets are tender and moving and create contrast with the moments of humour expertly interspersed throughout.

As the theme would suggest, there are choreographic influences from many cultural backgrounds which become more explicitly used as the piece continues into a high-energy celebration of individuality and movement.

Technical elements are used to great effect too. Some beautiful lighting design from Sergy Jakovsky and Luke Sutherland's powerful soundtrack both work beautifully with the choreography, complementing and juxtaposing perfectly and to great effect. The dancers also interact with filmed material on screens in a way that is both touching and joyous, due not only to the inclusion of children but their obvious input to the choreography in this section.

There is no doubt that this is an accomplished company who, when brought together, have created a thought-provoking and warm piece.

A Plague of Idiots ****

From the twinkle in the performers' eyes to the way they rejoice in their own ridiculousness, we can see the magic of master clown teacher Philippe Gaulier all over these four idiots; their time training with him has definitely paid off. As theatre makers, they clearly understand this type of comedy and they work with and for their audience, each desperately trying to cover for their cast mates and failing repeatedly, but we certainly love them for trying.

This cabaret-style show comprises of a series of acts, each more idiotic than the last, and they employ skills of clown, slapstick and physical comedy excellently. Somewhat surprisingly, Shakespeare features heavily with several 'adaptations' of the classic works, the like of which have surely never been seen before. Highlights include a rather beautiful reenactment of the 'O Soft...' speech from Romeo and Juliet, which is taken so seriously you cannot help but crack up! The 'Tempest' finale is quite literally show-stopping, but all in all this show is a really good laugh.

Faslane ****

Jenna Watt presents well-researched arguments from both sides of the Trident debate, in a dynamic performance interspersed with moments of humour which are a refreshing release in amongst a dense subject.

Her opening speech set the tone well; her frank representation of facts and transcribed interviews are articulate, and the stripped back style seems honest and real. There are points that could use a little more theatricality, but generally the simplicity of this performance works well, and as she warms the performance feels less scripted and Watt builds a strong relationship with the audience.

Watt’s journey of discoveries is interesting to share, and she presents both the arguments and her own struggle in an engaging manner, stimulating questions about where on the spectrum of the Trident debate you think you stand.

If theatre should be challenging and thought-provoking, then this fits the bill perfectly

Only Bones *****

I can almost guarantee that you have never seen a performer like this: limbs with a life and personality of their own one second, then seemingly with no bones (or ligaments or muscles) at all the next. The control you witness is outstanding; Monckton’s ability to manipulate the smallest parts of the body, not just to do this expertly well but while establishing a playful relationship with the audience, is mind blowing.

The only technical support is a single hanging light adjusted to different heights to focus on specific body parts, and the soundtrack for the vast majority comprises only of various noises and mumblings—with the only exception being a fantastic fast-paced beat that is matched exactly by the tiniest of movements.

I suspect that Monckton may have a face made of Play-Doh and a body like Stretch Armstrong, but I know for sure that his show is simply phenomenal. Get a ticket if you can!

Whiteout performs at Zoo. A Plague of Idiots performs at Gilded Balloon. Faslane and Only Bones performs at Summerhall. Check websites or programme for further details.

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