If there’s one strand that threaded through the three @pulsefringe performances I saw on Tuesday it’s this – the power of quirky, engaging and enigmatic performers.
Talking Birds We’re only here today have spent the last couple of days rehearsing in Eastern Angles studio space. Whilst scribbling away in the office we’ve been treated to the sounds of bagpipes (and boy is that a big sound), Dido’s Lament, a slamming door and a knock reminiscent of Beethoven’s 5th. I sneak into a run-through and it’s soon clear that that knock is the `knock of dread`, you know, the one that announces the unexpected visitor.
We come face to face with trick or treaters, carolers, politicians, policemen, evangelists and salesmen in a piece which is both charming and ever so slightly disturbing. Our two protagonists have echoes of both Morecambe and Wise and Gilbert and George as we glimpse both the brutal and futile nature of door to door life. As Dido’s Lament suggests,your destined to remember them for far longer than they remember you! [The show is at Pulse Fringe tonight – Wednesday – 9pm].
Remembering is at the heart, too, of J Fergus Evans’ beautiful love letter to his Atlanta, Georgia. My heart is Hitchhiking Down Peachtree Street explores the intimate subject of home. In truth I could have just sat and listened to Evans as his words – seemingly throw away but in reality rich in meaning – rustled, swooped, flew and fell about us. There is something of Daniel Kitson in the overall feel of this show and a little too of Francesca Beard – especially in the way Evans seamlessly merged banter with prose poem set pieces. As good as the word wizardry is, what really makes this performance is two things: first Evans’ delivery, which genuinely makes you feel he is plucking words out of the air and finding them for the first time, and second the subject matter of what does home mean to you? Whilst Atlanta might feel a million miles away, Evans leaves you with a real taste of it and in his stories, tales and anecdotes (which are nearly all `almost true`), I found resonances and echoes to the place I call home.
For Victoria Melody home is Brighton, where Melody is in fact Mrs Brighton. Her one woman show, Major Tom, is an entertaining rattle through the story of Victoria’s parallel attempt to become Mrs UK, and for her Basset hound Major Tom to triumph at Crufts. There is deeper subtext here – a neat inversion of fame shows, an exploration of obsession and, perhaps, most interestingly, an unresolved dialogue about feminism . However I have to admit to enjoying the show at pretty much face value. For a non dog lover like me, Melody, and her tale of commitment beyond the bounds of reasonableness to the verge of absurdity (echoing in a way both Franko B and Hunt and Darton), was entertaining company for an hour or so.
Pulse (which is rapidly and rightly developing an enviable reputation for breaking and championing the very best new work on the smaller scale) continues in Ipswich until Saturday. Look out for shows and developing work from Gecko, Chris Goode Talking Birds (Wed night) and Bitch Boxer amongst many, many others.