A visually stunning and utterly original company, Oceanallover are based in southwest Scotland but have also worked across the globe in Hungary, France, Italy, Sri Lanka, Slovakia, New Zealand and England. Performing in outdoor spaces and other surprising locations to suit their unique promenade style of theatre, they piqued festival-goers’ interest as they stalked the halls of Summerhall.
For their latest show, Transfigured, elements of a game of cards provide the theme. Using the surreal premise that a pack of cards has come to life out in the country after bursting open and scattering to the winds, they display the manifestations of this pack of cards in a way that is like no other. The traditional suits are nowhere in sight. Instead, we are faced with a new set of symbolic suits from this troupe’s fertile imagination. Dressed in their signature costumes, that look as though they are constructed rather than sewn, they lead you to believe you’ve landed in the midst of a medieval happening. There are hints of a circus of white faced performers, as they move on their beautiful footwear around the theatre space, mesmerising and fascinating as they go.
They are not quite clowns, neither dancers nor actors, yet are simultaneously all of these things. Led by their drum-beating master, this band of other worldly brothers and sisters inhabit the space of the Dissection Room with a captivating air of benign menace.
Enigmatic and poetic words are spoken and equally enigmatic songs are sung by the characters who embody the figures from their imagined pack. Over the performance, which overran somewhat, orders are bellowed out by Alex Rigg in his masterful role. Obediently, they line up at the sound of the word ‘pack’; they shuffle around to the word ‘cut’, but it’s when they hear ‘snap’ that they break up and home in on an audience member. Here is the experience of a bespoke interaction with anyone willing and open to it, be it to join in on a dance, have a dream made real, take a challenge to cure the Shaky Man, or just accept an invitation to engage in the strange proceedings of the moment.
The work of Oceanallover may be undefinable and laced with mystery, but their capacity to beguile, intrigue and make people smile is their treasured gift. The have dealt an ace with this show.