There’s no slowing our reviewers down! Here’s our roundup of the 29th of May…
Tonight, I slipped in to Beseda at 11 o’clock to see Tyrgve Wakenshaw’s Clown Work in Progress.
The Work in Progress title tells you everything about what to expect; Tyrgve is pretty much just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Not literally. At least not the night I saw it.
He performed a bunch of different little skits and bits, and I honestly wasn’t sure how much of it was pre-prepared and how much of it was just stuff made up on the fly. And that was exciting to watch! Especially because Tyrgve looks like he’s absolutely at home on stage, without a hint of nerves. He’s incredibly light and limber in his movements, like a mongoose. And when he tries something out and doesn’t get any reaction, he simply discards it with a very small shrug. And that consistently made us laugh.
The bits that did connect with us as an audience really sparkled; Tyrgve is excellent at working a crowd and getting them to join in; starting with having us make the sounds for a mimed drumkit, he gradually assembled a full rock ensemble with us, and there was this lovely playfulness to it as we all made each other laugh and supported the clown on stage. A darkly funny take on Rapunzel and a super long gag involving a tranquilized raptor were the two other highlights that had us in stiches; and I feel like he made them longer because he was getting a reaction out of us! By the time we were crowdsurfing people and chairs at Tyrgve’s suggestion, this show felt like a communal, shared experience. Tyrgve Wakenshaw basically opened us up, made us into performers in that 60 minute show. That’s a pretty amazing feat for a show that’s meant to be a work in progress. I’m a fan!
I started the day by navigating through the cyclist race up to Golden Key to see It’s a Girl. As the title suggests, the show is a piece that explores being trans and gender identity. It demonstrates how we are taught to recognise and reject differences at an early age, and includes a wonderful short piece about the correct way to date a trans person (spoiler alert: treat them like human beings). Michelle is an energetic and empathetic performer, who, despite dragging a transphobe through the mud, still show understanding afterwards that most who take their anger out in that way probable have broken hearts. The show goes by very quickly, and at this point in the Fringe blurr and exhaustion, it’s rather difficult for a show to have that effect on me, but I did find myself surprised that the hour was already over. Unfortunately this show is already over, but I wish Michelle well on her her journey to share her perspective with the rest of the world.
After that performance, I stayed in Golden Key to watch Olya Bowers’ opening of Diary of a M.A.D Activist. It’s a simple show, straddling comedy and spoken word with a couple of title cards for props. Olya is the real deal, someone with so much life experience that aside from one small story, she does not need to make anything up to get the audience’s attention. Travelling the world from Newcastle, she confronts various American presidents, strives to end Mutually Assured Destruction and meet cute boys. Her goal: to save the world. It’s still here, so she can pat herself on the back. She’s a magnetic person, and though the show could be further tightened, the hour passes pleasantly. As a young teenagers with a million ideas about how to change the world, it’s incredible to hear the stories about what happens to the teen who never stopped trying.
The show overran by five minutes, and due to my tight timing, it was quite a run to make it to Studio Rubin by 8pm to see Karlos Before the Law. This show makes the unconventional move from an incredibly dark atmosphere towards a lighter, somehow less serious one. The audience shuffles into the room in the dark, a single light hanging over a man tied to a chair. He is being interrogated for crossing a wall, and we assume this play will be simple, linear and follow this man. Without wanting to spoil the story, the performance takes on a very Kafkaesque turn and becomes brilliantly funny. This play rips at borders, physical and psychological and leaves the audience entertained and slightly confused in all the best ways. This is one of the more classical theatre shows I’ve seen so far, with no improvised bits or audience participation, but it still broke the fourth wall so much it might as well not have been there at all.