Author: Laura Clay

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Friday, August 9th, 2019 at 5:52 pm
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Arts
Show Reviews

PurSUEt & En Plein Dans l’Œil

The joy of the Fringe is alwys in the variety…Laura Clay certainly found that with these two performances…

[Content warning: suicide]

The protagonist of In PurSUEt really, really likes the darling of Great British Bake Off, Sue Perkins. In fact, she likes her so much, she speaks to her at every event she’s at – even if it means sneaking backstage and concocting increasingly grand fake backstories to lend her street cred, roping in Sandi Toksvig and a baffled Alan Carr in the process.

In PurSUEt takes the form of a monologue with a therapist our heroine doesn’t think she has to see, after a drunken fight and subsequent suicide attempt. Her stalking of Sue begins harmlessly enough, going to a few TV recordings and book launches, but gradually the web of lies she’s spun around her identity begins to unravel.

Based on Eleanor Higgins’ real experiences, it’s by turns effervescent and vulnerable, and the audience was totally rapt throughout. We’re asked ‘so what if someone’s obsessed with a celebrity?’ After all, they’re a distraction from the rotten events in the world today, and it’s just a bit of fun.

Alcohol plays a pivotal role in the play; its use and abuse as a social lubricant is explored, as the cracks begin to show and we realise that Eleanor’s character is not fine. It’s almost as if an audience thermostat was turned down towards the end of the play, as the mood shifted from superficial joking to frank, heartfelt confession of mental health issues. There were more than a few tears, and rightly so. It’s the kind of writing that strikes a chord with anyone who struggles with substance abuse, depression or situations where our inability to cope leads to often questionable self-care methods.

Timely, hilarious and poignant, In PurSUEt was one of the finest one-actor shows I’ve seen. And I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to certain Christmas carols again without dissolving into tears.

*****

In PurSUEt, theSpace North Bridge 2-10 Aug (12:20), theSpace Niddry Street 12-17 Aug (12:10)

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I confess to only having a fleeting knowledge of the works of Georges Méliès, mainly through scenes of A Trip To The Moon being used in several music videos. For this show, though, creator Jean François Alcoléa deliberately chose a variety of lesser-known works from the founding father of French film, setting them to a semi-improvised live soundtrack.

The films ranged from the documentary (such as Panorama From Top of a Moving Train), to the fantastical, Jules Verne-esque (The Impossible Voyage, The Kingdom of Fairies), and they still look as fresh and visually impressive as they did over a century ago. And while some of the special effects may seem a little primitive these days, the majority of the audience were utterly fascinated by the magical growing giant, the rulers of the sea on chariots pulled by hand-coloured fantastic creatures, and trains that can journey to distant planets.

In particular, the children loved the fantasy and slapstick elements; the playful music, performed on over 50 instruments including a piano board, slide whistle and aquaphone, fitted each film well and was perfomed with energetic enthusiasm by a trio of musicians.

Speaking to Jean François afterwards, I learned that there are over 600 extant films – with more being discovered. He has a real passion for Méliès and a drive to bring him to a wider audience, including a number of children-focused performances with detailed explanations of how Méliès created his magical effects.

It certainly worked with me. I left with a greater knowledge of Méliès, and a burning desire to explore more of his work. Merci beaucoup, Jean François!

****

En Plein Dans l’Œil (Right in The Eye), Institut Français d’Écosse, 6-10, 12-14, 16-25 August 13.30,  11 August 20:00

Laura is a fiction/creative non-fiction writer based in Edinburgh. Their work has been published by Scottish Book Trust, Monstrous Regiment and the Dangerous Women project.

Twitter: @uisgebeatha, Instagram: @lauraclayauthor

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