Theatre review: Buzz, Summerhall, Edinburgh

A moving, thought-provoking piece of theatre
A moving, thought-provoking piece of theatre
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The interesting – and possibly underrated – business of being unexceptional is the subject of this new work by Belgian youth company and multiple Fringe First winners Kopergeitery.

Buzz, Summerhall – Main Hall (Venue 26) * * * *

What happens if you don’t want to be famous, a rock star, or a CEO? What if you’re happy enough just muddling along?

Matthias, the protagonist of Johan Harstad’s novel from which the play is adapted by members of the company, sets out to be unremarkable, the kid no-one quite remembers, certainly not capitalising on his superb voice. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon, is his hero.

But those around Matthias are less tolerant of his lack of ambition. When his girlfriend of 12 years walks out on him and he loses his job (as a gardener), he finds himself washed up – literally, though it’s unclear how – on the Faroe Islands. Finding a job making souvenir sheep in a halfway house for psychiatric patients, he must again decide whether or not he has the courage to move on.

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The entire story is told by two performers: Charlotte Vandermeersch – in a superb gender-fluid performance as Matthias – and multi-instrumentalist Karen Willems, with the creative use of film by Ann-Julie Vervaeke.

One might wonder if Matthias’ problem is not his lack of ambition – which one is tempted to admire in a society which (unrealistically) wants everyone to be exceptional – but his lack of emotional engagement. Nonetheless, this is a moving, thought-provoking piece of theatre from a company punching well above its weight.

Until 25 August. Today 10am.

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