Wednesday 12 August 2009

Masterful marionettes come unstrung

6.0: How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009

With summers hotting up and polar ice-caps melting down, Dancing Brick ask us to spare a thought for the world’s figure skaters in this surprisingly poignant and cerebral clown show. It’s been five years since Heap Cruziack and Pebble Adverati last laced up their skates and danced competitively, but now, in spite of the extinction of ice-rinks, the world champions are intent on a glorious comeback. Thus, dressed in glacial-grey chiffon, they take to the wooden floor and skate with polished smiles and clumsy feet. It’s a stunningly simple idea that captures the clown’s essential conflict of optimism and futility.

Admittedly, Thomas Eccleshare and Valentina Ceschi fail to wring this premise for every last drop of comic potential, but in return they forge an unexpected tragedy out of the iceless-dancers. On the surface, Heap and Pebble are shrewdly observed caricatures of sporting professionals. Eccleshare, in particular, revels in the absurd inanities of media-speak and the faux-humility of their podium routine is spot on. However, by the time they come to actually perform their faltering free dance, Heap and Pebble seem utterly hopeless. They are broken and empty, entirely stripped of purpose like two masterful marionettes come unstrung.

In order to achieve this, Eccleshare and Ceschi sacrifice a rounded, satisfying structure in favour of something more stuttering. They sag as often as they hit hilarity – their icy recreation of the Apollo moon landings being a particular comic peak – but there are also moments of delicate beauty. All it takes to suggest Heap and Pebble’s former glories, for example, is two fingers gliding around the miniature ice-rink of a plastic garden chair.

Though 6.0... is not the most immediately gratifying theatrical experience, it has the intelligence, depth and imagery to linger with you through the Fringe. In fact, the more you think about Heap and Pebble’s plight, the more they’ll melt your heart.

19.10, till 31 August 2009 (not 17 and 24)


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