ZOO Venues Southside
As I stood to leave the studio, the man sat next to me gave his succinct review ‘that was pretty cool wasn’t it’. I’m inclined to agree.
Edison is a play about inventor Nikola Tesla, and how his talent was suppressed and his ideas nearly extinguished by, inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison. Minimalist scenes from Tesla’s early life in Hungary are contrasted against the heightened, super illuminated later life working at the Edison Electric Company in America. That even this play about Tesla’s life receives Edison’s title was a great touch. In fact, this show is defined by great touches, from the Edison hand stamp given on the way in, through zany marketing, creative costuming, a mysterious pigeon, and vast amounts of gold (so sparkly). The show set itself up to be big and bold and loud. The surprise came in the tender scenes from Tesla’s early life rendered movingly in Hungarian with the help of subtitles. The excess of Edison and the simplicity of Tesla were contrasted to great effect.
It’s time for a confession. On a recent trip to Budapest I visited an exhibition on Tesla’s life so I’m more than usually clued up on the content. For those who don’t choose to spend summer holidays in science museums, the show might have been confusing. There was a clear set up between the poor and brilliant Tesla, and Edison with his promotional videos, too big, too bright and running an expansive ideas factory more than a hint of 1984. However, beyond this, the efforts made by Edison to suppress the Tesla coil, and capitalise on his own invention could have been missed. That said, for enjoyment of the show, I’m not convinced it matters.
The use of movement was great. The cast demonstrated their physical performing dexterity moving in unison as varying pieces of machinery. There were interesting class and wealth implications over different factory levels trailed through subtle costume changes. Audio visual techniques were fun and innovative with creative and well embedded use of sound and video, and some beautiful choral singing.
Without exception the cast worked as a close ensemble, with clear connection and electricity. Overall this is a great show, with all the best elements of bizarre fringe executed by a strong ensemble cast.
I’d love to see what the team could do with the story of a female inventor. Maybe a lightbulb moment for next time?
Edison is on until 27th August at Zoo Southside. More information and tickets can be found here.