Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 Theatre Reviews 9 - Forever Young - Traverse Theatre - Four stars / The Solid Life of Sugar Water - Pleasance Dome - Four stars / Am I Dead Yet? - Traverse Theatre - Three stars

It's fitting that Forever Young begins outside the funfair carousel in the west end of Princes Street Gardens. As symbols of lost youth riding off into the sunset go, it's one of the best for this new piece of journey-based theatre from the Australian one step at a time like this company in association with the Irish Clonmel Junction Festival.

Using text messages and one to one interaction, the young people of Clonmel's newly christened Junction Joes ensemble lead the show's solitary audience member on a teenage joyride into rediscovering the child within. Risks may be taken, passion fruits may be stolen and hearts may be broken, but in coming to terms with lost idealism and the reckless joy of doing things for kicks, by the time you're on the couch being asked questions by a teenage therapist a la Lucy doling out advice to Charlie Brown, it becomes a melancholy confrontation with what it means to be a grown-up.

With our teenage guides on the cusp of going out into the big bad world themselves, under the guidance of directors Julian Rickart and Suzanne Kerston, every moment in this show is a two-way set of epiphanies, either in the moment for then, or half-remembered for an audience who's been holding onto those moments for decades. As far as restoring one's faith in an eternally questioning younger generation goes, this is a joy.

Runs until August 30.


A generation or so on, and love hurts in The Solid Life of Sugar Water, Jack Thorne's two-hander for the Graeae company, which puts a young couple centre-stage in the marital bed but increasingly miles apart as they stumble and tumble through their messy affair. Alice and Phil meet in the post office queue, where they fancy the pants off each other and throw themselves into a love story that by rights should have a happy ending, even if Phil does think Alice's deafness is 'exotic'. Beyond all the passion and icky-sticky stuff, however, life throws them a curve-ball when the baby they're trying for is still-born and suddenly all passion is spent as they tiptoe around each other, grieving as they go.

With the couple's conflicting versions of events initially as comic as a newspaper blind date column, things soon take a more painful turn as Genevieve Barr and Arthur Hughes wring every last gasp of emotion from Thorne's script in Amit Sharma's beautifully unsentimental production. Just as Alice and Phil's relationship seems to have fallen apart beyond repair, something is salvaged in this unflinchingly honest look at everyday tragedies and the healing that's required beyond them.

Runs until August 30.


Dying onstage is nothing new in Edinburgh at this time of year. Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe's fifty minute late-night cabaret drama based around notions of mortality takes such a notion to its logical limit in Am I Dead Yet?, their show for Unlimited Theatre. Opening with the pair standing at microphones in white vest and pants that give them the air of a 1970s anti litter campaign that ties in perfectly with their retro copper routine.

This is just one aspect of a show that barely pauses for breath in its low-attention-span race to cram everything in before anyone outstays their welcome. Spooner and Thorpe spar, jostle for position, tell stories, get a qualified first-aider to demonstrate CPR and generally contemplate matters of life and death with the high-octane energy of a stand-up in full flight. If there's a touch of the mid-life crisis at play here, it remains a provocative proposition designed to remind yourself you're alive.

Runs until August 30.

The Herald, August 26th 2015

ends

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