Dynamic Earth

Shellshock!

18/08/19

The Greenhouse (Pleasance Pop-Up), Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

Written and directed by Louis Catliff, Shellshock! is a funny, endearing musical, with a serious message but a playful tone. Shelly (Alex Duckworth) is a hopeful young ecology graduate, recruited as an intern for GLG, an oil company with a spillage problem. She thinks she’s there to help them reform, but they’re only interested in greenwashing their image. So far, so predictable. But when ruthless CEO Venetia Von Van Clief (Phoebe Angeni), German mentor Jeremy (Daniel Heidlandn), secret agent Darryl (Molly Williams), animal rights activist Glen (Elliot Douglas) and a Galápagos ‘turtle’ (Catliff) are added to the mix, it’s pretty clear this is going to be a quirky ride.

Zero-waste venue, The Greenhouse, is an ideal space for this play by BoxedIn Theatre. We queue outside in glorious sunshine but, just as we’re entering the little wooden hut, a light rain begins to fall. Before long, as we’re watching the performance, there’s a downpour, the drops bouncing off the clear perspex roof, our eyes drawn to the grey sky above. As the characters sing about covering up the damaging effects of their industry, we’re acutely aware of our environment. Ten minutes later, we’re reaching for our sunglasses as the clouds break and the light pours in. There’s no hiding from the world in here.

The music, written and performed by Joseph Baker on guitar, is charming: a little bit folksy, a little bit blues, even a little bit hip-hop at one point. It suits the story and its Louisiana setting. The singing is also uniformly strong, although a special mention must be given to Angeni and her super-impressive vocal chops. The ‘turtle’ is very funny too, effectively conveyed by Catliff donning a green T-shirt and adopting a tense crouch.

I like the story: it meanders a little, but is always engaging, the dubious nature of the characters’ motivations exposed through sharp humour. It takes me a while to understand the dramatic purpose of Glen, the inept animal rights activist, but I come to realise that he’s a means of critiquing dogma – that he and Venetia Von Van Clief are united by their zealotry, and their inability to see a picture bigger than their own obsessions.

This is a lovely little play in a fascinating (and much-needed) venue.

(For more details about The Greenhouse, check out our other blog here: https://thezerowastrels.home.blog/2019/08/17/the-greenhouse-a-zero-waste-fringe-venue/)

4 stars

Susan Singfield

Dark Side of the Moon: The Full Dome Experience

27/08/17

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

Of all the shows we have attended at this year’s Fringe, (and there have been many) this is perhaps the hardest to review – but for me at least, it’s one of the most irresistible. Under the museum’s gigantic dome, usually reserved for films about space exploration and wild-life documentaries, some genius has decided to project a series of eye-popping visuals while Pink Floyd’s classic 1973 album, Dark Side of the Moon plays in its entirety.

This record formed the soundtrack of my life through many of my formative years and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to listen to it again, played loud with no interruptions, while spectacular images swirl and swoop above and around me. These range from pulsing abstract patterns to CGI animated landscapes. Planes soar in crystal clear skies, bricks tumble in all directions and endless constructions stretch to infinity in all directions. Occasional feelings of motion sickness soon pass, and mostly the results are simply jaw-dropping.

It’s clear that I’m not the only one attracted to this. All of the twice-nightly showings quickly sold out and extra dates had to be added to cope with the demand. Sitting spell bound in my comfortable seat, I am transported back to my youth – and listening to David Gilmour’s thrilling guitar work on Money actually gives me chills.

Okay, I appreciate this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but for me at least, it’s an absolute joy from start to finish. I hope Dynamic Earth will take the hint and put on a few more shows like this.

5 stars (for Pink Floyd Fans)

4 stars (for the uninitiated)

Philip Caveney