Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventures in Edinburgh: Baby Mama, Lies, and Seance

I've been awful about writing and I've seen 15 "shows" or "events" (edited at the end of my trip to show total of 18 shows):

  1. Theatre Conspiracy - Foreign Radical 
  2. We are Jane Doe/Zanetti Productions - Jane Doe
  3. Doughnut Productions - Speaking in Tongues
  4. Mariah McCarthy - Baby Mama: One Woman's Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People
  5. Agent November Productions - Agent November: Major X-Plow Shun
  6. Malaprop - BlackCatfishMusketeer
  7. Ontroerend Goed - Lies
  8. Binge Culture - Ancient Shrines and Half Truths
  9. Darkfield - Seance
  10. Auld Reekie's Haunted Underground - Ghost and Torture Tour
  11. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society - Dram is Worth a Thousand Words
  12. Tidy Carnage - Shame
  13. Mr and Mrs Clark - (FEAR)
  14. Theatre Voliere - Evocation
  15. Quote Unquote Collective/Why Not Theatre/Aurora Nova - Mouthpiece
  16. Joanne Ryan - Eggsistentialism
  17. Manual Cinema - Lula del Rey
  18. Red Bastard - Lie With Me

Originally I had wanted to write about everything I saw, but there are of course some things that I just *don't* end up enjoying or have nothing to say about and therefore writing about them becomes a chore. Instead, here are a couple of the ones that really stood out.

Mariah McCarthy - Baby Mama: One Woman's Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People

Mariah has been a friend of Travis's for awhile and I've heard a ton about her. I finally got to meet her recently, and FINALLY got to see this show. And it was incredible. Moving, funny, beautifully put together, I am so thankful that I got to see it while I was here. Unlike Jane Doe this one woman show DID pull me in and did engage me. I didn't know the story, knew vaguely how it ended only because I knew her. But there's something about the way she tells this story that demonstrates that no matter how many times she has performed it, Baby Mama still cuts through Mariah with all of the emotions every time. I nearly made it out of the theatre without crying, but I didn't, and that is RARE for me.

Ontroerend Goed - Lies

By the way, this piece isn't called Lies, but I don't feel like finding the right combination of keys on my keyboard to actually pull up the correct spelling, so just go to their website to see its real title. This was the second immersive piece I saw at the Fringe that blew my mind. It was executed beautifully, from the moment the doors were opened and the audience members were greeted until the very end. The first thing that struck me was how completely designed the space felt - not something I had seen much of in Edinburgh but they had managed to do it. Dimly lit wooden tables were scattered about and we were instructed to sit at them in groups of six or seven. Each table essentially represented a country, and each of us represented a bank. The "show" was really a "game" in which the banks invested in different products, starting at first with tangible things like steel, but slowly working towards riskier, less tangible investments.

Lies did the impossible - for one shining moment, I understood the financial collapse. I couldn't possibly explain it to you now, but I got it, and understood bailouts, and why they are necessary, and how we have built this system on fake money and fake investments that is going to fail every time. It was absolutely fascinating and a TON of fun. This is the kind of show I would see over and over and over, to get a sense for how to play it, whether having any strategies at the table would change the outcome, or postpone it (assuming the show wasn't confined to 90 minutes). However it's sold out through the rest of its run (tickets may be available at the door, that happens with some shows if you go early enough and for this it's worth it).

Darkfield - Seance

Last but definitely not least, for now, the third immersive piece that was so good. Seance is a 15 minute piece inside a shipping container. I've touched a bunch of times on my inability to suspend disbelief and how knowing too much about the workings of theatre has a lot to do with that. Sound design is an area I know NOTHING about, and it made up about 80% of this show (the remaining 20% being kinetic - vibrations felt through the seat and table in front of you). Seated in pitch black, the only things defining the space for you for those 15 minutes are the sound that's coming through your headphones and your memory of the inside walls when you walked in - and it's so very easy to believe in the one that is happening now, and asking you to believe now, rather than the one that is in the past and unreachable. I was actually able at times to let go and believe that the space I was sitting in was different than the one I had walked into
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