City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Just To(o) Long

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 24 August 2007

Show details
Running time: 
not applicable
Abigail Davey, Polly Hazlewood, Natalie L'Herroux

This is a distinctly different kind of review for a distinctly different kind of Fringe show. At the end, all members of the audience (6 of us) had to swear that we would not reveal the nature of the performance or where it had taken place. Therefore I cannot describe the actors, the set or details of the performance.

Their Fringe 2006 show, "Crossed Wires," involved phone conversations, mobile text messages and a thrilling chase around Edinburgh's Waverley Station. In my review I wrote "Be prepared to be unsettled, scared, surprised and personally drawn into a strange, thrilling scenario... this is the ultimate live art performance, bridging the gap between performer and spectator... brilliantly imaginative, totally original."

So how could Breathe - a collaboration between three artists, Abigail Davey, Polly Hazlewood & Natalie L'Herroux - create something quite so imaginative and original again? They have.

In "Just To(o) Long", the scenario is a private dinner party for six people at an unknown location.

Six strangers meet on an Edinburgh street corner at a given time and then directed by a mobile phone call to make their way to an address nearby. We sit around a table and the performance begins. Our tastebuds are teased and tantalised, we engage in intimate, physical contact with our "hosts" and fellow guests and take part in a series of sensory snapshots.

Unlike a conventional dramatic performance, observed at a distance, this is a total experience for all the senses - taste, sight, sound, touch, smell. It is all so involving and mentally stimulating that it's like being immersed in a Peter Greenaway film. When the show was over, it felt strange to be back in the "real world" - but with an appetite to go out for dinner, especially with a group of strangers. It was a deliciously memorable and magical experience which continues, at odd moments, to haunt me day and night.

As an innovative theatre company, Breathe is indeed a breath of fresh air, breaking boundaries around what contemporary drama is all about. This intelligent and utterly surreal performance is like a work of art to inspire and feed the soul. A masterpiece.

Times: 3-26 August (selective dates - check Fringe brochure, p. 200)