On a whim after seeing a very nice trailer, I booked tickets to go see Manipulate Festival in Edinburgh – a pioneering programme of emerging and established visual theatre artists. After spending most of my days wrapped in devised new writing, this was all a bit new to me, a part from the odd show at the Fringe, my knowledge of visual and puppetry theatre is minimal. After my conversion when seeing Massive Owl’s Castle Rock last week, I was really excited to see what was coming up in this scene.
Eat Me by London-Glasgow company Plain Sight was a very visceral exploration of food, fetish and death. A woman searches the dark net to find someone that wants to eat her, whilst, in the background, we watch the increasing frantic movements of a man eating on a long, dressed table, full of food. The work in progress was a great insight into a show I’d love to see in full. It reminded me of opulent victorian dinner parties, excess, gothic. But through the dark were glimmers of humour that really made the piece a joy to watch.
Cloth by Tiffany Soirat was simple in concept, but delivered beautifully by Soirat. Her performance is so funny, so clever, a lovely exploration of our most imtimate relationships with our bed. Very sensual in parts, mixed with clown like humour, we were all hooked on the gaze of a confident performer, commanding an audience with just herself, and her bed sheet.
The Body in Shadow by Choral Jam had moments of real interesting image making – a series of flashlights that took on a human form, was really fun to watch. Light and shadow play was explored in different ways, and a snapshot of their most recent R&D gave us an insight to the starts of something really interesting from this theatre company.
Fisk by Tortoise in a Nutshell has moments of pure joy and beauty, at points, extremely moving. Sequencing images of depression, anxiety and loss, Fisk was a quietly powerful story of suffering, and letting go and the relationships to people who cope alongside. Mental health is an interesting one for me, I always slightly recoil when depression is depicted like a stock image of a person with their head in their hands. At times it was over acted, over compensating. It would have been nice to seen a deeper, more complex image of coping with mental health, but that aside, I really enjoyed it and was completely taken away with the set, the real star of the show.