Of all the theatre productions at this year's Fringe this was the one with the concept that grabbed me most. The idea of an abandoned historic slave ship suddenly appearing in present day New York seemed so full of potential that by the time I saw the show it was almost certain to disappoint. I said *almost*.
Over 75 minutes Daniel Beaty portrays dozens of characters as they react to the events of the day with particular focus on a father and two sons who find themselves more caught up than most. Their tale is interwoven with the tales of others, and as well as the slave ship, the other focus of the piece is a slam poetry contest one of the sons is involved in.
Aided by only lighting and sound effects, Beaty's transitions between character are incredibly well realised, even when switching between two halves of conversations a dozen times a minute. It's a stunning performance - vocally, physically and textually. While the issues raised have greatest relevance to Black America you certainly don't need an in-depth understanding of American history to appreciate this show and much of it speaks equally to UK problems.
While the main tone of the piece is humourous, this is powerful stuff and the topics covered are discussed seriously, and Beaty is perfectly capable of pulling the rug from under the audience on occasion.
This was a joy to watch and is everything a Fringe show should be, although there are a few moments that start to drag a little. Now it may have been due to the influence of an American contingent in the audience but this got a standing ovation from over three quarters of the audience. While it's a great show I wasn't one of those standing - I've never yet given any show a standing ovation. I believe that it isn't a decision, a standing ovation should be something you just can't stop yourself from doing, but make no mistake, anyone wanting to see quality at this year's Fringe should have this high up on their list.
Emergence-See is at Assembly @ St George's West until the 27th at 18:45 (not 6th or 13th)
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Posted by Statler at 11:47 pm