City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

If That's All There Is Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 20 August 2009

Fringe 2009: If That's All There Is
Show details
Traverse Theatre
Inspector Sands
Running time: 
Lu Kemp (associate director), Yukiko Tsukamoto (set and costume designer), Jack Knowles (lighting designer), Carolyn Downing (sound designer)
Lucinka Eisler, Guilia Innocenti, Ben Lewis

Almost as soon as the bridegroom steps forward to deliver a speech of thanks replete with unconscious irony and oozing self-satisfaction, one senses If That's All There Is may well be a gem of a show.

The real or fantasised murder (Inspector Sands theatre company muddy these waters remarkably well) which punctures this moment leads us back through a story-line of pre-nuptial preparation awful in its depiction of the shallowness and self-delusion which helps us stagger through lives less meaningful than we might once have hoped.

Inspector Sands touch is light, however, and although their humour is often black and sometimes bleak, humanity has a habit of breaking in. Theirs is a very physical theatre which never loses a proper sense of theatre and manages to root itself in reality and experience even at its most surreal. There's delightful ensemble playing by that cast as bride, groom, psychoanalyst and work experience trainee.

Murder aside, the violence of the everyday lies close to the heart of If That's All There Is, depicting the way our humane best becomes compromised and diminished by our search for consumerist perfection that is both unattainable and undeliverable. The real strength of the piece, however, is as much in the subtle and oblique way in which this is communicated as in the message itself. The play is also laugh-out-loud funny in very direct ways.

Whether using power-point presentation to illustrate seating arrangements at the wedding, or photocopying their own distress, Inspector Sands use modern technology and more traditional theatrical technique with skill and aplomb. The ceroc dance routines are quite stunning in themselves.

If That's All There Is remains the kind of theatrical experience difficult to adequately describe, as audiences will naturally inform the action with their own experiences and reactions to the situations delineated. If you've time in the bustle of the Fringe to fit in one more show, If That All There Is may be the one that fits best.

Times: 18-30 August, various times (see Fringe programme for details)

Copyright Bill Dunlop 2009

First published on 2009