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Pendulums Bargain Emporium (Edinburgh Fringe)

This show at Pleasance Dome combines storytelling, puppetry and live music to question how far we will go to find happiness

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

As the audience enter the space, we are in the all too familiar environment of a garish department store. The cast capably capture this sickly sweet atmosphere, with forced smiles offering free samples, and the bliss of consumerism. But this retail experience is suddenly brought to a halt, and we are introduced to the Shoemaker, and the main drive of the narrative.

With his sales plummeting, the Shoemaker begrudgingly allows his wife to start buying up and selling cheap shoes wholesale, before plunging head first into a world of mass-production, sweat shops and pure capitalism.

The Shoemaker tells this story through a dictaphone, where he has tampered with a fairy tale in an attempt to tell the true story of his wife's demise. The rest of the cast use the familiar retail props from the first scene to create a variety of characters and settings.

While the unconventional use of props in this Maison Foo production is effective, the two elements of this piece don't sit we'll together. The department store is well-observed, naturalistic and familiar, whereas the shoemakers tale is too contrived, and very heavy-handed. All the pitfalls and sickness of consumerism are already present in the former, and overdone in the latter.

- Tom Sudron

Pendulums Bargain Emporium continues at the Pleasance Dome until 24 August