Perhaps, just perhaps, it is me who is the alien. And perhaps, just perhaps I have landed in some curious parallel universe where things are the same, yet different.
Last time I looked, it seemed to me that the use of advanced technology in shows – multiple projectors, evidence of long, complicated periods of pre-production spent on location and in edit suites and recording studios, excessive use of live video, recorded video and large format screens, often enhanced with multi-channel audio tracks – was rare, and expensive, and to be found only in very occasional, well resourced and fantastically funded productions.
Yet, one of the observed features of this year’s Fringe is an excess, perhaps even a glut, of video screens, layered projections, animations and pre-recorded video and audio content.
The Outsider, from Finnish magician and performer Janne Raudaskoski, and presented in the New Town Theatre as part of their Start To Finnish strand, is ostensibly a one-man show. He plays 40 distinct characters in the 70 minute performance, as well as various cloned iterations of his green haired alien self, distributed across two full size plasma screens.
Our visitor crash lands onto the stage and spends a little time exploring aspects of human life and culture, with the idea, I imagine, that we’ll learn a little something about ourselves by looking at familiar concerns through innocent eyes. However, the vignettes are brief, and the insights are somewhat superficial, leading me to wonder why the show wasn’t aimed much more clearly at a younger audience. It billed itself as a fantasy for grown ups but, really, it’s just a fantasy.
It was very clearly an incredibly complex show to piece together, and Raudaskoski skilfully works with the pre-recorded content, the two plasma screens, and a simple white door to facilitate some of the journeys from stage to screen and back again, to create a confusion of clones and a real sense of movement and dynamism, breaking only occasionally to treat us to one or two good old-fashioned card tricks, a bit of audience participation, some bubbles, and some streamers. All in all, a fun visit from an inventive stranger.