City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.) Review


By Euan Andrews - Posted on 17 August 2009

Fringe 2009: Blue (.)
3
Show details
Venue: 
The Jazz Bar
Company: 
On Q Productions
Running time: 
90mins
Performers: 
Concrete Generation

Brought to Edinburgh by members of North Carolina theatre and performance troupe Concrete Generation, this was an impressionistic wander through the lives of two of the most inspirational, and aesthetically controversial, figures in American 20th century jazz: Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

Although the production was originally designed for a cast of fourteen, only four members were able to make the trip over. Backed by the piano, bass and drums of the Paul Kirby Trio, the inscrutable presence of Miles and the more troubled and naked persona of Coltrane fronted the stage. Skipping between these two jazz giants was the figure of The Storyteller, attempting to bring context to Miles and Coltrane's discourse through rambling beat poetry. He opened the show with a monologue stringing together a multitude of the duo's album titles, even managing to get Dark Magus and Tutu in there, while the band softly tinkled "So What" in the background.

It must be said at this point that, even for audiences well acquainted with Miles and Coltrane, it was pretty hard to figure out what was going on in this production. While the acting was exemplary, particularly Randolph Ward's rasping, stooped take on the mercurial Miles, the decision to stage the final two nights in the Jazz Bar, having transferred from The Music Box, was a cute but poor decision. Many of the audience arrived clearly thinking a night of straight jazz was on offer and seemed bewildered by the somewhat abstract theatrics before them.

Space was also an issue, with quite simply not enough seating. This was then made worse by allowing regular punters to walk in off the street during the shows second half and crowd the bar while the actors struggled through and around them.

Still, this was an intriguing production which evoked the spirits of Miles and Coltrane's work while portraying them as wildly different characters. Miles the aloof scene-stealer, fiercely proud of his heritage, with Coltrane forever in search of his own inner salvation, never more so than a closing scene which saw him uttering his own benedictions to God while "A Love Supreme" covered him like a halo.