The end, the end, the end . .
5:30pm (until 26th August)
‘What is America – a being or a becoming?’
The company describe this show as a performance collage – it’s an exploration of utopia, of America and of finding your place, all whilst the end of the world fast approaches.
I’ve probably spent more time pondering how to review this show than any other at the fringe. There are so many lights and sounds and colour and costume all packed onto a small stage. Before the show I wasn’t certain what a performance collage was, but now I have a fair idea. The end, the end, the end, was unrelenting, at times almost painfully loud, a clash of ideas on a huge subject, pushed and meshed together in overlapping formation. At times it was successful – at others it was all just too much.
The end, the end, the end began with a gentle pre-show, where a member of the cast talks you through a story from their childhood. I was paired with Carolina (Carolina Romero), who evoked her childhood, talking me through games she played with bugs and rolling down hills – it was lovely. She held the material with a delicate touch, and told it in a way that was intimate, like a child sharing a secret with a new friend. It worked beautifully.
Following this we are lead into a studio space, where the collage begins. The cast move frantically around a grid designated by green strips of material, reminiscent of the mapping and depth guidelines for animation. Projected on the large screen at the back of the performance area are adverts and music videos. There is Barney the Dinosaur, Raven and YouTube videos advocating face whitening – it is a mixed pattern of influences, evoking the conflicting messages America gives to its population. There are endless countdowns, with our performers stuck in a loop and resetting; learning and relearning what it means to be American with each reset and each contradiction.
A strong section for me was the frantic rush to answer questions on an immigration form. Similarly the depiction of Nixon (Henita Telo) and discussion of the moon landings, performed at a steady pace amidst the unfolding chaos was effective. I enjoyed the emergence of the director, her voice emanating from a teddy bear and the moral here was clear.
The company come from seven countries and the meeting of performers from around the world to create art is exciting. Overall, however there was just too much going on for me. I felt like a lot of the work done was not communicated. The show was a literal assault on the senses. The constant noise and strobe lighting was difficult – whilst I understand that it is designed for discomfort, for me it went a little beyond what was necessary. I left unsure what the experience was, or fully certain how I felt.
This company is undoubtedly unafraid to take genuine risks and experiment. There isn’t anything quite like this performance at the festival, and you’ll likely get something totally different out of it than I did – there’s such a lot of material there. Perhaps that’s a reason in itself to give it a watch?
The end, the end, the end is on until 26th August at 5:30pm at Venue 13 (Lochend Close) Further details and tickets here.