HOW do you weave together the Arab Spring, the study of ants and the repatriation of museum artefacts with a lost coal miner, nuclear waste and the dying days of empire? Very cleverly, if you’re Curious Directive, the young company that won a Scotsman Fringe First last year for Your Last Breath.
After the Rainfall
Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
Star rating: * * * *
In this show, they extend their ambition, with multiple characters in four time periods. They need all their energy and inventiveness to keep their audience engaged through a rapidly changing barrage of times, places and people.
Edward is in Egypt following the death of King George VI in 1952. He is on a mission to check the viability of transporting weapons-grade plutonium down the Suez Canal to Australia. Claire is in Cumbria in 1986, in danger of quitting art school until a friend encourages her to make a sculpture in memory of her lost brother.
Rashida, in 2012, has lost a brother, too, in Cairo during the Arab Spring. She is travelling Europe visiting museums in his memory. Meanwhile, in 2022, John has written a best-selling book about society, inspired by his study of ants, while his geologist partner, Grace, is in Egypt supervising a plan to bury nuclear waste from Britain in the Egyptian desert.
With so much ground to cover, each story gets told in a series of rapid vignettes, using a Lepage-like array of theatrical techniques. There is little time to build up relationships between the characters, particularly John and Grace, who are clashing on live TV before we have properly established they are a couple.
But buried in all this action are important questions about empire and its aftermath, how technology has changed the way ideas are spread and the nature of objects that commemorate those lost to us.
One might wish the whole thing was a little slower, though, so we could have longer to enjoy the beautiful metaphors the company creates while exploring them.
• Until 27 August. Today, 3:40pm