Dark Matter

at Greenside @ Infirmary Street

* * * - -

A puppet show with an important subject matter.

Image of Dark Matter
Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

Greenside is one of the most exciting and innovative venues in Edinburgh. Over three different sites they programme interesting and diverse work. Dark Matter takes place at the Olive Studio at Greenside on Infirmary Street. The venue is a tiny sweat box and not exactly the best location for this performance. The majority of the action takes place on the floor and an elevated stage is not present. Therefore you can only witness the full performance if you are sat in the front row. Else you will have to creak your neck for 50 minutes, or in some cases for certain audience members, stand on your chair. This is unfortunate, as for what could be seen of Dark Matter was very good.

Dark Matter tells the story of Alberto. He is an old man who is living with dementia. We see Alberto go in to care and we witness his memories, his love of physics and also the confusion that he suffers. Alberto is a puppet in the Japanese bunraku style, with one performer manipulating the head and one arm, another performer operating the back and other arm and a third controlling the legs. The puppet is well designed and fully expresses the range of emotions that are on display. There are four performers in total (Aurora Adams, Sofia Calmicova, Jennie Rawling and Douglas Rutter) and they share puppetry and performance duties.

On the stage are miniature models. These present different locations that the puppet finds himself in. The models are filmed and the images are projected onto a screen towards the back of the stage. The effect works well and is necessary, as the models are barely visible on the stage, due to the aforementioned staging issues and inadequate venue. Dark Matter is a good show, with an important message, but unfortunately this message was almost totally lost due to the fact that so much of the show was not visible to the audience. Adapting the show for the venue would have helped and allowed the audience to connect to the show more easily.