Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: The Invisible Show II, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

Review: The Invisible Show II, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

Published on Culture Wars, 25.08.2011

Marking a radical shift for Fringe veterans Red Shift, this live-broadcast headphone drama seeks to blend into the crowd. Unfortunately, while the concept is strong, the execution is utterly mangled and the whole thing reeks of digital immigration.

The overwhelming problem with The Invisible Show II is that it would be visible from space. Leaving aside the chunky, albeit flesh-toned, radio mics, its repeated re-use of the same four actors means it’s less a case of syncing audio with appropriate visuals than a round of Where’s Wally. A particularly easy one at that, since the acting is emotionally outsized. Olivier was never much crack at immersive theatre: splendid fury doesn’t lend itself to disappearance.

In fairness, the actors aren’t helped by obvious and overwrought writing. The conceit is that we tune into private moments in the bustle of the Pleasance Courtyard. Each goes to eleven, much like miniature soap storylines. Passionate affairs come to angry ends. Unplanned pregnancies drop like bombs. Terminal illness strikes! You’d think the queue for Tim Vine’s chat show was the place to break bad news.

Much more fun is attaching such dialogue to unsuspecting and entirely inappropriate punters, kicking back with a beer or fending off flyerers. Believe me, two portly Germanic tourists discussing six-hour sex sessions that culminate not in orgasm but urination is quite the spectacle.

Photograph: Red Shift

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