Every Minute, Always – Forest Fringe – 4 stars
Like You Were Before – Forest Fringe – 5 stars
The Forest Fringe remains one of the most important creative hubs in Edinburgh that operates on its own terms to present an array of unique bespoke works that the commercial sector elsewhere is simply too behind the times to take on board. For the fourth Forest Fringe programme, a series of off-site events spreads the net of their already hard to pin down micro-festival even further.
How about The Ghost Festival, for instance, in which a hundred lucky Forest-goers are handed a card outlining an elaborate imagined activity – swinging cats, for instance, involving Frisbees, Swingball and the like. With a piece of green string tied to one’s wrist, one is then charged with stopping anyone spotted with something similar and conversing with them on the possibilities offered up by the falsehoods printed on your cards. Regarding the swinging cats, as yet there are no takers.
Every Minute, Always, on the other hand, can’t help but bring people together. Devised by Abigail Conway and Melanie Wilson of 2009’s solo turn, Iris Brunette, Every Minute, Always invites the audience to engage in a brief encounter in the Filmhouse Cinema. On the proviso, that is, they come in pairs.
With Conway and Wilson acting as pop-eyed usherettes providing the foreplay to the main feature, each couple wears headphones through which a personal primer for the etiquette of back row seduction is beamed through while a collage of Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard is beamed onscreen. What happens next in this sweet and tender treatise on old-fashioned courtship in dimly lit rooms is private. It does, however, involve people touching. Popcorn is optional. Take someone nice. They might like it.
A version of Deborah Pearson’s Like You Were Before was performed as part of Battersea Arts Centre’s season of micro-festivals earlier this year. Now fully fleshed out, Pearson performs her candid auto-biographical meditation on what it means to move on behind the counter of Marchmont’s Alphabet video shop where she worked after moving to Edinburgh from her native Canada in 2005.
Using video footage of her friends filmed three months before she left town, Pearson unravels her own history alongside the future she never saw coming with an understated candour that is quietly captivating. As she rewinds and fast forwards her old life, Pearson’s recognition that nothing ever stays the same is a painfully honest but charmingly life-affirming study. Pearson performs casually and without guile in a powerful, poignant and really rather lovely miniature. Maybe in another five years she should see where she’s at and think about a sequel. For the moment, Like You Were is an unmissable homespun glimpse into how we got here, even if we never quite knew where we were going.
The Herald, August 18th 2010