It’s that time again when we award (virtual) bouquets to the best shows we saw at this year’s EdFringe. From a plethora of performances over three weeks, here are our highlights. Congratulations to all concerned.
Endless Second – Theo Toksvig-Stewart/Madeleine Gray/Camilla Gurtler/ Cut the Cord
Who Cares? – Jessica Temple/Lizzie Mounter/Luke Grant/ Matt Woodhead/ LUNG & The Lowry
Shine – Olivier Leclair/Tiia-Mari Mäkinen/Hippana Theatre & From Start to Finnish
Ripped – Alex Gwyther/Max Lindsay/Robin Rayner Productions
On The Other Hand, We’re Happy – Toyin Omari-Kinch/Charlotte Bate/Charlotte O’Leary/Daf James/Stef O’Driscoll/Paines Plough & Theatr Clwyd
Jo Caulfield: Voodoo Doll – The Stand Comedy Club
Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist – CKP and InterTalent Group
Showstopper! the Improvised Musical – The Showstoppers/Something for the Weekend
Fishbowl – SIT Productions with Le Fils Du Grand Réseau
Beep Boop – Richard Saudek/Crowded Outlet
Chris Dugdale – Down To One – Chris Dugdale Int Ents
Once in a while you stumble across a show at the Fringe that thrills you with its invention and sheer originality. Shine is just such a show – brought to the Fringe by From Start to Finnish, it’s a triumphant slice of immersive theatre. Indeed, my only criticism is that the title is deceptive, giving none of the flavour of this dark, powerful slice of psychological drama. Much of that power comes from its unusual staging.
As we take our seats in the studio theatre, we cannot fail to notice that a set of headphones is hooked over the back of every seat. We are instructed to put on the headphones. The lights dim and the drama begins.
This is a story about the disappearance of a little girl. The child’s parents, played by Olivier Leclair and Tiia-Mari Mäkinen are making love when she calls out to them in the night and they ignore her cries. The following morning, she is gone. When the official search is eventually called off, her father becomes obsessed with finding her – and his obsessive search leads him on a long, dark descent into madness…
If the story sounds familiar, the telling is anything but. Leclair and Makinen unfold their story through the medium of dance and mime, accompanied by an evocative soundtrack, every move they make perfectly synchonised to the sighs/screams/whispers that fill my ears. This has all the powerful intensity of a first-class ghost story. The hauntings are largely in the characters’ heads; nevertheless, there are scenes here that are incredibly chilling. This is a world where even an innocent piece of chalk can become an uncontrollable weapon, where the simple act of pouring a glass of water can take on a sinister subtext. I sit transfixed, completely involved right up to the (weirdly) uplifting conclusion.
There are just a few days left to check out this startling slice of theatre. The clock is ticking… listen… can you hear it?