AVA/ADA – Underbelly, Edinburgh.
Sometimes there are Fringe shows where you come out buzzing and filled with the possibilities of what theatre can be. As one of the most imaginative shows ever staged at the Fringe, “Ava/Ada” is one of those shows. A work of sheer genius. Manual Cinema are a Chicago-based shadow puppet and projection company and this is their first ever appearance at Edinburgh Fringe. Let us hope it won’t be their last. They wish to return cinematic storytelling back to its purest forms. Their completely original performance method, using four over head projectors (the kind you’d find at the front of your Year 3 classroom) and a series of shadow puppet and masked actors, is one the most inventive things I’ve ever seen and worthy of the accolades and sell-out crowds it is currently drawing at Underbelly.
“Ava/Ada” is the story of two elderly sisters who live together in their secluded house on a clifftop by a lighthouse. Their daily routine is exactly the same: a cup of tea, a game of chess and then bedtime. But when Ava suddenly passes away, Ada’s world is turned upside down. A severe mental breakdown ensues as Ava struggles to deal with her loss. You can’t quite fathom the emotional complexities of the piece and I don’t want to give too much detail away. Part of the joy of the show are its endless surprises which had audience members giggling, gasping and ultimately sobbing as we are taken on this journey (which owes more than a nod to Tim Burton, but is unbelievably original in its own right). Complimented by a haunting original score, as well as a few well known standards, the show’s delights even continue after the moving dénouement, when audience members are invited onstage to see the puppets up close. A brilliant way to engage further with its audience and a memorable end to an exquisite show.
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By Rory Maxwell
6th – 29th August 2016
Underbelly Topside (Venue 358), 22 Potterrow, Edinburgh, EH8 9BL.