Pulse 2012. The first full week. Day one.Date: 29 May 2012
This year’s Pulse Fringe Festival is certainly full of experimental work that stretches its audience’s imagination – and incredulity – to the maximum.
One such offering is The Mechanical Animal Corporation’s work-in-progress piece Johnny Head-In-Air, a Butoh examination of the experiences of brain-tumour survivors using visual imagery and percussion. So far, so good.
However, the reality is that the comedic potential of a dancer (Macarena Ortuzar) staggering about the stage wearing what appears to be a giant turnip on her head far outweighs the serious subject the piece is trying to explore, and the sight of the unfortunate creature suddenly head-butting the summer pudding (or is it brain matter?) she’s attempting to eat only resulted in stifled laughter from several quarters.
Without question, Will Connor’s and Matt Chilton’s discordant aural backdrop sets the teeth on edge; there is an odd cohesiveness to Johnny Head-In-Air but visually it’s a mess. Grandiose imagery on a budget becomes sniggersome when it fails and, coated in a less-than-healthy dollop of pretentiousness, is just plain silly.
Somewhat saner is Laura Mugridge and Tom Adams’ The Watery Journey Of Nereus Pike, a whimsical performance with music and audience participation. Nereus is a demi-god who lives in a lighthouse with his wife, Marianus. Nereus and Marianus long to be free and Nereus chooses to dive to the farthest depths of the ocean.
The audience first become the everyday sea-life of the near surface and then the bio-luminescent creatures of the lowest point of the ocean. This is a charming concoction of conversation and imagery that grabs its audience and drags it along on a wondrous voyage of discovery.
Rounding off the day were Louise Mothersole and Becca Biscuit as the oddly named Sh!t Theatre. They’re a curious though immensely likeable duo who merge stand-up with physical theatre and biting socio-political satire.
Racism, the Olympic Games, our unpaid intern culture and unemployment all get their particular waspish treatment in their Edinburgh-bound show JSA (Job Seekers Anonymous). Wonderfully politically incorrect and insightful, JSA might not have much of a shelf-life post-Edinburgh, but is a cracking showcase for Mothersole’s and Biscuit’s weighty talents.