From climate change to family battles: more from AJ Clay at the Fringe.
Our Field At Twilight [theSpace on the Mile] (@sisutheatreco)
Climate change has never been a more important topic, and Finnish Sisu Theatre explore what it might do to Northern Europe with a heavy dose of dystopia. Insomniac mother Saara and anxious stoner Iida spend their days working for an unseen cult leader, forced at regular intervals to perform a ritual that includes the phrase ‘you are the answer’. This is also how the cast address the audience as they queue outside, lending a disturbing aura from the outset.
The play is heavily inspired by writer Vilma Kitula’s grandmother, whose children suffered from a rare disease that causes severe muscle weakness and speech/vision difficulties. Like Saara in the play, her children were taken away, and this trauma is reflected in the protagonist’s frequent dreams of a weak calf calling for its mother. The cow puppets used are incredibly lifelike and add to the surreal atmosphere.
When burglar Marija arrives from outside the cult, seemingly to help the pair, it prompts a shift in the power dynamic. Her profession is a voyeuristic act, she explains, and Saara and Iida must decide whether to turn their back on the cult life or report the newcomer. It’s tensely acted, at times disturbing, but always gripping to watch.
Our Field At Twilight is a thought-provoking study of motherhood, disability and grief, and the potential effects of climate change on our future.
Blodlina: The Viking Musical [Pleasance KingDome](@blodlina)
In this ambitious production, two sisters battle it out for the position of Jarl after their father dies, accompanied by a hard rock soundtrack.
Blodlina was written during lockdown and finally performed to a test audience in May 2021; this Fringe run is a proof of concept before a planned 2023 tour of an extended version. Certainly, there’s only so much that can be crammed into one hour, and the second act feels a little rushed. The quality of acting and singing is great, though, with standout performances from India Shaw-Smith as Magnhild and Halldora Thoell as the sassy deity Frigga.
Fourth wall-breaking commentary is provided by Marcus Wood as Thor and Nathan Rees as Loki, who also provide guitar and bass accompaniment. I was particularly pleased by the disabled representation of Brianne Surgeoner as the fierce Gunilla, and hope this is a trend that will continue at the Fringe.
The five-piece band are fantastic, especially the drummer and lead guitarist. There’s not quite as many metal tracks as expected- it feels like there’s more soft rock and prog- but when it does appear it’s perfect for the frequent battle scenes. Considering how small the stage is, the swordfights are expertly done, and there were no moments where it felt like the plot dragged.
Blodlina has a lot of potential, and it would be good to see the longer version if it reaches the West End.