Fringe shows to make you forget monologues
We were so lucky to meet so many other solo performers at this year’s Fringe – this lovely piece from the Solo Fringe shows to make you forget monologues sums it up nicely.
From The Scotsman’s Fringe writer Mark Fisher
Among last week’s Fringe Firsts were Jim Cartwright’s Raz, Desiree Burch’s Tar Baby and Joe Sellman-Leava’s Labels. Those three solo shows are joined in today’s final list of Fringe Firsts by yet more monologues: A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, A Reason To Talk, What I Learned From Johnny Bevan and Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer.
It means more than half of the best new plays on this year’s Fringe, as judged by The Scotsman’s critics, are single-handers. Even taking into account the economics of the Fringe, which make short small-scale plays attractive to producers, this is an unusually high percentage.
And this year, the effect has been amplified by the presence in the Edinburgh International Festival by two formidable one-man shows by Robert Lepage and Simon McBurney. Staged in adjacent rooms in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Lepage’s 887 and McBurney’s The Encounter dazzled audiences with their scale and technical accomplishment, even though both filtered their vision through the lens of a single performer.
What’s interesting about this is that, like Beattie at the RSC, Lepage and McBurney need no lessons in working with an ensemble. Although Lepage has a long history of creating solo shows going back to Vinci and Polygraph in the late 1980s, he is best remembered in Scotland for communally devised productions such as Tectonic Plates, The Dragons’ Trilogy and, in its formative stages, The Seven Streams of the River Ota.
Likewise, McBurney earned his reputation on the Fringe in the mid 1980s in what was then known as Théâtre de Complicité, a company that specialised in a highly physical style of ensemble theatre shaped by training in Paris with Jacques Lecoq. As with Lepage, the plays were often created through improvisation with the cast and could be seen not as a singular vision but as a collective expression.