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Review: Hold On Let Go (Summerhall, Edinburgh)

A piece from Unfolding Theatre about loss and memory

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Alex Elliott making bread with Luca Rutherford in Hold On Let Go
© The Other Richard

Free cordial, fresh sourdough, new songs by Paul Smith from Maximo Park and lots of musings on memory. Unfolding Theatre's Hold On Let Go has all the ingredients for a really great Fringe show. It's such a pity then that it's still a bit half-baked.

It's a piece that I really wanted to love, but just couldn't. Performer and writer Luca Rutherford and performer Alex Elliott are together onstage and happily chat informally to the audience about memory, loss and how we keep hold of the things we don't want to forget. There are some beautiful personal stories – including Elliott's thoughts about his mother who escaped the Spanish Civil War and her amazing cupboards filled with food tins – and Rutherford is poetic about the worry she feels about her inability to remember things.

They also touch on ideas about how you want people to remember you when you are gone and what you remember of people and places that are no longer here. All really interesting concepts, which are frustratingly skipped over, in favour of a lightness and brevity that leaves Hold On Let Go feeling very unfulfilling.

It's just too vague and too dreamy to land properly and instead of offering a key message, it struggles on all its points. Smith's voice pops up in the background, but I couldn't quite work out the point of him being on his own radio station in the piece (apart from to play his own songs – penned just for this).

There's a nice rapport between Elliott and Rutherford too, but although the gap in their ages (so one might be considered as being closer to death than the other) is referenced, it isn't properly explored. Perhaps it's the lack of a key central narrative (I definitely wanted to hear more about Elliott's mother), perhaps it's just that there are far too many things going on here. Even a slice of warm, just-cooked bread at the end couldn't sweeten the deal.

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