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Fringe Performance: Reviews

Falling in Love with Frida

powerful: Falling in Love with Frida is an hour of joyful humanity.
powerful: Falling in Love with Frida is an hour of joyful humanity.

Falling in Love with Frida

Dance Base

Succulent just about sums it up. With text as juicy as the watermelon that Caroline Bowditch and her fellow performers - Nicole Guarino and Welly O'Brien - bite into, this spicy mix of movement, music, spoken word and performance has so much honesty, sensuality and twinkling mischief, you feel like licking your lips while you look and listen.

As Bowditch surrenders to the passions that falling in love with the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo stirs in her, various thematic connections are forged. Being disabled, being an artist - Bowditch uses Kahlo's life to reflect on her own, but never with a flicker of self-pity or special pleading: instead, along with Guarino and O'Brien she celebrates being alive. Rejoices in her sexuality, her identity - even if she feels she's not as Aussie as she once was! - and then, in the midst of the flirty-teasing style that characters a lot of this show, Bowditch weaves in reflections on how, whether we mean to or not, our existence causes ripples in other lives. As Frida has on Bowditch, we leave a mark on others.

So yes, these three women are utter minxes. But their generous-hearted performances, and Bowditch's own frankness and self-awareness, make this an hour of remarkable beauty and joyful humanity.

Ends August 17

Klip

Summerhall

Ham - served thick, half-baked or raw with inexperience - is never in short supply on the Fringe. However Danish company Livingstone's Kabinet come close to going the whole hog by having a real ham in the cast. Is it smoked? Who can say, but as the rest of the company push absurdity into realms of chaos, the aura of a night on the waccy baccy hangs over things. Just like the ham.

Under the influence of incongruities, Klip is ridiculously funny. The songs (by Pete Livingstone) have the quirky quality you find in Ivor Cutler, the little dance-y bits are sweetly daft, the text pleases itself. But as certain fragments return in different guises, what's really mind-boggling is how Klip starts to make sense. Not linear, more like the end stages of a 3D jigsaw about relationships, missed connections and coincidences.

The ham bows out, but by then we know man is meat and Patsy Cline's I Fall To Pieces has become a theme tune for collage-performance.

Ends August 24

Domestic Labour

Summerhall

Plug in, turn on - and watch the dust fly as 30 Bird try to hoover up the fall-out from a marriage where the husband and wife have very different ideas about who does the housework. But because she's English and he's Iranian, there is a whole clutter of cultural baggage that can't be swept under the carpet, no matter how many vacuum cleaners are lined up across the stage.

Along with various other labour-saving devices, those upright vacuum cleaners translate into some of the funniest, most inventive kinetic sculptures imaginable - although it takes a visual artist like Chris Dobrowolski to do the tangential imaginings, and three handy women (the cast) to assemble them for real.

There's such a stream of mechanical surprises, each one wittily symbolising how a woman's work is never done, that the fragments of text (by Merhdad Seyf) don't really come together in a way that draws our attention to the deeper issues. Such as what feminism was about in the 1970s and how that has carried over to present-day Western ideologies, but not necessarily to Eastern societies that still adhere to patriarchal mores.

And showing clips of Johnny Guitar - the only Western where two women shoot it out - turns into more of a distraction than a clarification of the underlying concepts.

By the end it feels as if two shows have been shoe-horned into co-habitation: some de-cluttering would let each side have a clearer say.

Ends August 23

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