A Walk at the Edge of the World

August 7, 2014 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✩✩ Beautiful but rambling

Summerhall @ The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Venue 388) Fri 1 – Sun 24 August 2014 (not 7, 9, 11, 18)

A meditative walk through the beautiful environs of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art leads into a slightly rambling dramatic monologue in Magnetic North’s A Walk at the Edge of the World.

Ian Cameron. Photo: Peter Dibdin

Ian Cameron. Photo: Peter Dibdin

After an affable introduction by performer Ian Cameron in the grounds of Modern One, the audience is led, in silence, on a walk through the grounds of Modern Two, down beside the Water of Leith and beneath Belford Road. Cameron introduces the idea of having rediscovered the joy of walking following a recovery from hip surgery and encourages his audience to concentrate on the sights, sounds and scents they will encounter.

Returning to Modern One and going to the Studio space there, it becomes clear that Cameron is in unnamed character. He delivers the ensuing dramatic monologue (written by Nicholas Bone) as a talk, supported by a slide show and multimedia projection.

The talk focuses on the character’s relationship to his memories of his repressed, oppressive evangelical upbringing, and especially his mother. Mannered in both its conception and its delivery, walking is presented  in as a form of emotional release; and as a slightly tired and nebulous metaphor for the character’s anxiety and alienation.

Slow-paced, low in energy and rather repetitive, the monologue relies on heavily sentimental anecdotal passages narrating the character’s history with walking. These are interspersed with apparently arbitrary passages in which the character attempts to link this personal experience to broader history and historical figures.

The direction is often quite clumsy. Cameron’s repeated reaching for the slide projector’s control feels awkward, he slowly sips water and, for no readily apparent reason, occasionally takes a seat during certain passages. The latter taking him out of the siteline of those at the back.

Cameron struggles to maintain the affable, slightly pathetic charm of the character as Bone’s ponderous script rather tests the audience’s good will. Nonetheless, there is a genuine charm and, though it often misses its mark somewhat, a subtle, gentle humour.

On the whole, though not strictly necessary, the slide show and multimedia projection work well and, in particular, the images of the character’s family past add a certain depth to the fabricated back-story.

A charming conceit, making excellent use of the Modern Gallery’s beautiful surroundings, but let down by the affected, rambling script and ponderous direction, A Walk at the Edge of the World presents a welcome respite from the crowded and often hectic pace of the fringe and an introduction to a beautiful and less well-trodden area of Edinburgh.

Running time: 1hr 15 mins
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 75 Belford Road, EH4 3DR
Fri 1 – Sun 24 August 2014 (not 7, 9, 11, 18)

Daily, 5pm
Tickets from: edfringe.com/whats-on/walk-at-the-edge-of-the-world
Company website: www.magneticnorth.org.uk

ENDS

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