Fringe Physical Theatre


Pleasance at EICC

five stars


Zoo Southside

four stars

It’s twenty-three years since the Polish company, Teatr Biuro Podró?y, unleashed the hectic fire, ear-splitting cacophony and Armageddon-on-stilts of Carmen Funebre on an awestruck Fringe. Some of those cataclysmic elements also feature in Silence, currently performed after dark in the outdoor space behind the EICC. They provide a spectacular framework for a collage of evocative images that reach back into history - but are at their most harrowing when echoing our own conflicted times.

A battered bus gives context to graphic scenes of refugees in persecuted flight. Harried and humiliated by sneering men in uniform, the migrants still try to set up little homes, retain a sense of identity, often through music - and, above all, protect their children. The adult performers constantly watch over life-sized models of (unnervingly realistic) youngsters. When the group is repeatedly forced to scramble for safety - inside or on top of the bus - the children are swiftly passed from hand to hand, like precious parcels of hope for a better future. Callous violence, valiant beauty and plaintive humanity over-lap and collide as history repeats in a fiercely physical Silence that asks troubling questions. A viscerally memorable experience for those who stand and watch.

Migrants, of a feathered kind, also encounter hostile environments and an increasing lack of welcoming habitats, and it is this parallel journeying that Tom Bailey charts in a thoroughly unusual, utterly compelling solo show, Zugunruhe. Abetted by a fascinating digital sound map composed by Rowan Evans, Bailey physically takes on the characteristics of the tiny Marsh Warbler - including its unique repertoire of other birds’ songs - and re-enacts its epic flight from South Africa to the UK. En route, he references the scientific research into how birds navigate over long distances, find their way home, and - like human migrants - defy daunting odds to raise offspring in foreign lands.