Ridiculusmus at Summerhall

Ridiculusmus at Summerhall

Edinburgh! So here I am sitting in the courtyard of Summerhall – the Fringe’s hippest and happening-est venue. It has grown even bigger this year – more food and drink franchises,  more exhibition spaces, more theatre shows. I’ve just seen The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland (snazzy title!) by previous TT Award winning company Ridiculsmus, which by any benchmark is an in-at-the-deep-end show. An intelligent, challenging script; adventurous staging (audience in a kind of traverse and then some set-up, facing each other but divided by a ‘wall’ of windows and a doorway.) On one side of the divide, a psychiatrist’s consulting room; on the other a family home. The two worlds interweave and collide, leaving us to ponder: who is the ‘maddest’ here: Doctor, doppelganger,  patient, mother?  Or are they all mere parts of one  whole? RD Laing is referenced – here is me, there is you, and inbetween is ‘the experience’ we share. It’s a  clever metaphor for theatre itself as well as being an intriguing piece of theatre about psychosis. Originally commissioned and developed by The Basement, and reviewed there as part of Sick! festival, the show has, I have been told by those who know, come on a lot since then.  Ridiculsmus, of course, are old favourites with Total Theatre – much reviewed over the years and previous Total Theatre Award winners at the Edinburgh Fringe. This one doesn’t quite feel like a Ridiculsmus show and I’ve no idea if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Most of their shows are laugh-aloud funny (even when being serious). Here, the humour is low-key and cerebral, and in its staging and scripting choices the show reminds me  strongly of Station House Opera – if I have a reservation, it is that it appeals more to the head to the heart. But that said, a really stimulating and interesting piece. Ridiculusmus have another show opening here at Summerhall on14 August – The World Mouse Plague, which promises ‘a Tom and Jerry style battle over cream cake and biscuits’. It’ll be interesting to compare and contrast… Also on the Summerhall agenda for my first day is Malasombra, a whimsical and charming shadow-theatre show from Spain; Made in ILVA, a rivetting (appropriately enough for a piece about a steelworks) solo physical theatre show  from Italy; and The Object Lesson from America’s finest, Geoff Sobelle (he of All Wear Bowlers and Pig Iron Theatre fame – last seeing wowing Edinburgh and the London International Mime Festival with Flesh and Blood). Reviews of all three to come soon – but just to say here: beg, buy or steal a ticket to The Object Lesson. Sobelle is a world-class clown, but this form-defying show is something else altogether – pure genius. And there’s plenty more at Summerhall – my list for future days includes Guinea Pigs by Total Theatre Award winners Sh!t Theatre; Domestic Labour by 30 Bird; Near Gone, which is on the way to becoming a Fringe hot ticket; KLIP from Denmark; Sirens, the latest by Big in Belgiym stars Ontroerend Goed; and an all-male take on Wuthering Heights. There are also a couple of off-site Summerhall commissions I’m looking forward too: Curious’ Out of the Water, presented on Portobello Beach; and Return to the Song by the highly acclaimed Polish company Song of the Goat.  What with all this theatre plus a whole raft of visual arts  exhibitions (including one by the legendary Genesis P Orridge, and a film programme to boot, I could quite happily spend most of my  Fringe time here. I will, though, be venturing elsewhere…  starting with the Forrest Fringe. Watch this space…

Dorothy Max Prior

Dorothy Max Prior

Dorothy Max Prior is the editor of Total Theatre Magazine, and is also a performer, writer, dramaturg and choreographer working in theatre, dance, live art and street arts. Under her alter-ego Dorothy’s Shoes she creates performance work that both honours and usurps the traditions of popular dance and theatre, and plays with the relationship between performer and audience. Much of her work is sited in public spaces or in venues other than regular theatres. She is also co-director of street theatre/dance company The Ragroof Players.

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