Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Edinburgh Takeover: Day 2

I always think that I am a super organised person. Actually that's a lie. I believe I can be a vaguely organised person. Sometimes. But the Edinburgh Fringe is reminding me that I am not even that. Despite waking up at silly o'clock this morning, I was still in a rush to make it over to the beautiful Assembly Rooms on George Street for my first show of the morning -- The Truman Capote Talk Show.

When I was booking my shows around the book adaptations specialism, I have mostly found them to be plays depicting the book. But the whole time I have been on the lookout for things that are a little bit different. Which this certainly is. It is a one man performance, an informal chat really, by the talented Bob Kingdom who depicts Truman Capote as alive but dead but alive. As nonsensical as that sounds, you will see what I mean if you see the show. Kingdom, who not only performed it but wrote it as well, depicted Capote in a gloriously entertaining way, admitting at the beginning that 'I died'. This allowed him to make allusions to the modern world throughout, therefore keeping it relevant.

This was particularly important because he wasn't just simply speaking as Truman Capote, using his voice to tell us about his life and his relationships with other authors (although these were great, especially as a book addict who had read most of 'his friends'). He was also commenting on celebrity culture and writing in general.

Sometimes I wasn't actually sure whether it was Capote speaking or Kingdom himself. He said 'I was obsessed with words' and being a writer himself, could have applied to Kingdom as much as that famous author who we had all become entranced by. Similarly he said 'I was physically, emotionally, and mentally drained to produce the style that everyone called simple' and I thought this was so poignant. Because it's true. There are a few authors out there who do write deceptively simply; yet that does not mean, by any stretch, that they spend less time on their writing or that it is any easier to produce.

And actually that can be applied to Kingdom's show as well. Yes it was deceptively simple. He was sitting for the majority of it; there was minimal use of lighting. However, he talked to us with a fluent ease that made it seem natural, not overrehearsed and he did make us fall a little bit in love with Truman Capote by the end.

As he said, 'it's what we do to heroes, we love them to death.' Yes we do.

And as the room went dark, Moon River played around us. We all took a little pause to pay homage to this wonderful writer. One of my favourite writers whose name I have finally learnt how to pronounce properly.

After the rush of the morning I had a long break - practically the whole afternoon to enjoy the addictive buzz of the city a little more before I went to see Death in Venice early in the evening. It was a semi-powerful adaptation of the novella, which used contemporary dance, ballet and mime to tell the story. However the words are the power in this short tale so to lose them was to lose the main essence of the story and I found myself to be disappointed until the end. The end, where the very physical climax occurs, was portrayed well and in a heartbreaking way. But the main themes of the novella -  love and loss and jealousy and obsession - were lost on me throughout the short performance.

There was some beautiful dancing hidden within the piece. I found my eyes continually drawn to Kasumi Momoda and I wish she had been given a bigger role than that of the strawberry seller. However, the rest I found to be either out of time with the music or with each other. In addition there were often too many dancers for the space available. Which may have been a purposeful decision to accurately display the claustrophobia of Venice alleyways but simply came across as slightly chaotic.

Now having completed Day 2, I am off to try the local whiskeys. This could end badly. But when in Scotland and all that...

If you would like to see the shows I have seen today you can see:
The Truman Capote Show at Assembly Rooms from 24-27 August at 11.05am.
Death in Venice at Greenside @ Nicholson Square  from 24 - 26 August at 7.45pm.

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