Reviews Edinburgh Published 18 August 2014

Blind

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ until 25th August 2014

Noise machine.

Natasha Tripney

Grace Savage’s show is all about noise. The noise that surrounds us, the hiss and fizz of the world, the constant background hum of the media, news headlines, ad slogans, and the way they bleed into our lives.  Savage has always been hyper-aware of sounds, mimicking everything she heard. Today she’s a championship beatboxer, one of only a tiny number of women performing in the way. As such the piece initially paints her as a circus attraction, and she first steps out from behind a barcode-stripped screen wearing corset, hoop skirt and trainers.

She’s an engaging and warm performer, easy-going, chatty, playing as she has said, a heightened version of herself. Blind contains elements of autobiography; she look back at her childhood in Devon, her relationship with her mother and her growing interest in music, the first guitar she bought, the songs she wrote. She also explores vocal manipulation as an art form, it’s evolution through Indian tabla via skat and jazz to the beatboxer battles and slams of today. In between all this she launches into this amazing wave of noise, tongue drumming, lips clicking, whirring, fizzing, yelping, trilling, scratching. She has an entire drum-kit in her mouth – no, fuck it, an entire percussion section – and it’s quite spectacular, especially when she intersperses the beats with snatches  of lyrics.

She loops the whoops and snares of the audience into a backing track over which she fireworks and squicks and riffs. She asks the audience to blindfold themselves and truly lose themselves in the music, before beginning to word-weave, creating this audacious poetic piece, capturing the chaos of a volatile urban night as we sit there in the dark. It’s a truly stunning sequence.

She also turns herself into a human radio, switching from channel to channel, voices lost in a sea of white noise.  Savage’s openness about the difficulty of trying to place herself in the world, to just get on with things, without being labelled, without the constant external chatter and commentary, the continual being sold to, a wish for the noise to stop, is also potent and feels in keeping with a wave of thinking in the air at the moment.

Made in conjunction with the Paper Birds with whom Savage has previously worked, the show is a glorious showcase for her skills and if your knowledge of beatboxing is sketchy it may well make you think differently about it, about what it can do, what it can be. The blindfold sequence demonstrates the theatrical potential of beatboxing and it does make you wish the company had found a way of better integrating the music with the narrative elements, of creating a space where they could co-exist. As it is the show is still really engaging, because of Savage’s skill and charm but I kind of wished they’d been a bit more experimental in their approach.

Advertisement


Natasha Tripney

Natasha co-founded Exeunt in 2011 and was editor until 2016. She's now lead critic and reviews editor for The Stage, and has written about theatre and the arts for the Guardian, Time Out, the Independent, Lonely Planet and Tortoise.

Blind Show Info


Produced by The Paper Birds

Cast includes Grace Savage

Link https://www.pleasance.co.uk/

Advertisement


the
Exeunt
newsletter


Enter your email address below to get an occasional email with Exeunt updates and featured articles.


Advertisement