A cacophony of noise and colour explodes onto Festival Square to officially open this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. The Festival have once more collaborated with the immensely talented 59 Productions team to produce a 25-minute show which turns the already iconic Usher Hall into something from a Hollywood blockbuster.
This year’s theme commemorates the centenary of World War One with a show inspired by the telegrams sent by soldiers and themes drawn from their communications. The first of the Five Telegrams to light up the Usher Hall is ‘Spin’; acutely appropriate even today with the frequently used phrase ‘fake news’. An explosion of colour and patterns mesmerises the packed crowd before being followed by a much more sombre affair with ‘Field Postcard’ which needs little explanation, the colours becoming darker, and symbolic of the bloodshed on the battlefields.
‘Redaction’ brings up ideas of censorship, the original projected images becoming obscured and changed over time and all to the backdrop of an electrifying score by composer, Anna Meredith.
Eyes are locked on the building as inspiration number four spins onto the brickwork – ‘Codes’. The lightshow is building now and not only being projected on to the Usher Hall’s façade but also shining out lighting up the audience underneath.
Finally, as the production reaches its crescendo, it is ‘Armistice’, the moment the fighting ended. It is a sensational production and the EIF organisers really do have a formula, and even a tradition now, for creating stunning openings to their annual festival offering. A triumph.
The crowd on the streets are here to celebrate the opening of the International Festival but there is also a reflective quality to this year’s collaborative project and as people disperse into the night to homes, bars and shows across the city and beyond the thought reverberates, “we will remember them.”