Fringe Physical Theatre

Mary Brennan

Terra Incognita

Zoo Southside

Four Stars


Zoo Aviary

Four Stars

If there’s not dancing...


Three Stars

DOES any of the hot air that rises from the recurring conferences on climate change help or hinder active responses to global warning? Perhaps performances of Terra Incognita at every such gathering of world policy-makers might remind them of present realities at grass-roots level – though grass is not always growing there, these days.

Tom, in his business suit, is one of the urban go-getters who – beyond newsreel clips or fund-raising appeals – don’t experience drought or devastating floods in their concrete jungles. But then a beggar-like woman – the spirit of a dying earth, perhaps – whirls him away on a journey of dramatic awakenings.And this is where Temper Theatre, directed by Finn Morrell, really come into their own. With a minimum of special effects, props or costumes (beyond all-purpose black robes), they use maelstroms of movement to fill a bare, predominantly gloomy, stage with images of landscape and humanity at bay. As snow blasts in from the wings, a sheet of polythene is moulded by invisible hands into peaks: the only shelter from an unseasonable winter. A change of tone, in music and lighting, and Tom is confronted by the unrelenting heat that is killing crops, animals, starving people. Puppets, seemingly made of tatters, hint at cultures where even traditions are now threadbare – all thrown into savage relief by unaffected revellers who swagger to the k-ching-a-ching of Pink Floyd’s Money. This vehement, but cogently delivered production doesn’t back down with reassuring endings. Tom’s protesting voice goes unheeded while his erstwhile guide lies prone beside a sign saying Danger: bad weather ahead. No curtain calls. We leave. Hopefully taking that image with us.

Runs until August 29

THERE were warnings she chose to ignore. Where did Ralph keep getting the money from, when he didn’t have a job? Why did he keep getting letters that he hid from her eyes? Even when Edith found out – found out that Ralph was screwing wealthy widows, sexually and financially – she stayed. Well, ain’t love just hell-bent on being blind? And hustling post-war America probably wouldn’t have noticed either, if Edith (Harriet Feeny) and Ralph (Francois Lecomte) hadn’t turned to murder... It’s the stuff of penny-dreadful fictions but there’s a true 1940’s story – tagged by the cops and media as The Lonely Hearts Killers – behind this cleverly atmospheric, knowingly ‘noir’ production by the Tooth + Nail Theatre Company.

There were clues for us too. The voice of a cop (Adam Gordon) asking routine questions, digging into Ralph’s career as con-man/gigolo. But when lonely Edith joins the ranks of Ralph’s harem, it looks like true romance for both of them – so why does the cop keep questioning her? Morsel, by tantalising morsel, the jigsaw starts to form a callously self-absorbed picture of the couple. At the same time, however, a picture is also forming of a divided America: one where unemployment is rising even as the radio churns out ads for a bright smiley 1950’s future if you buy the right toothpaste, the right car.

The way to the Hummingbird - a grotesque nick-name for the electric chair, on account of its buzzing – sees a multi-talented cast of only three stretching an expressive movement vocabulary into acrobatic balances that vividly convey emotions and morals teetering on a deadly brink.

Runs until August 29

THE full title of Julia Croft’s one-woman show is If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming – a moniker as intriguingly loaded as her many layers of “good girl/bad girl/ 1950’s lady/ showgirl” costuming. Within those layers she not only carries a whole deeply felt commentary on how women have been – and still are – perceived by society, and by men especially: she packs props, like a G&T in there too. She makes it funny, but as she strips down through the various personnas – with film clips, voiced-over scripts and pop songs expanding on how women’s bodies are objectified, trivialised, ogled and abused – her aura of valiant outrage builds and builds. Fringe-time is when a lot of performers put themselves, their beliefs and their anger, on the line. Croft does it without tub-thumbing, and with a generous dollop of humour

Runs until August 28