Probably the most extraordinary show we saw at the Edinburgh Fringe this year was an incredibly fast-moving extravaganza of electronic music, video projection and light, with a futuristic feel, and an interaction between dancers and projected images that was timed absolutely to perfection. It was billed as a Comedy Show, and there was a light heartedness about it, but essentially this was an amazingly clever production in which heart pounding techno music combined with split-second timing to provide a series of sets in which electronic images were captured by living performers and manipulated in front of our eyes. A spectacular set which pried right into the life of one of the performers made a pointed comment about the intrusiveness of the online world: a timely reminder for us all.
It was a world premiere, but news was spreading fast; by the end of the week we spent in Edinburgh, it was selling out and had repeated standing ovations. It took my breath away, certainly, to see such clever, rapid movement between reality and illusion, and the concept was so novel as well as so perfectly executed that the room almost vibrated with the sense of something completely new and invented. We had never seen anything like it.
It was clear that the troupe, SIRO-A – 6 young Japanese men – had devoted enormous energy to the development of the show, and their hard work, dedication and energy sparked for all to see in the performance itself. The real story, however, lay behind this fantastical production, for these young men were all from Sendai, the Japanese city closest to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March this year. They had sent off their application to the Fringe on the day the earthquake and tsunami struck, and despite the fact that their rehearsal studio was wrecked in the subsequent traumatic events, they made a commitment to come and show the world that they were a strong nation and would survive. Quoted in The Scotsman, the assistant producer said: ‘This is their message to the world, that this is the energy of Japan that is still alive’.
Alive it most certainly is – alive, vibrant and explosively real. It was an amazing experience to listen to and watch their performance, and humbling to acknowledge the strength, courage and resilience that underpinned it.
I know what I will be speaking about in one of my first assemblies of the new school term!