Theatre review: How to Drown a Fish

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Deflated balloons hang from the ceiling and a figure stands alone, her face frozen in a grimace of fear. Never has a dancing competition seemed so unappealing.

How to Drown a Fish

ZOO (Venue 124)

JJJ

Deflated balloons hang from the ceiling and a figure stands alone, her face frozen in a grimace of fear. Never has a dancing competition seemed so unappealing. Gone are the bright lights and loud music, replaced instead by a scared woman in a leotard: Grace Gibson, as a clown-like version of her childhood self. As she performs her stripped- back routines – ballet, tap and jazz – she reveals the practice behind the performance, as well as the pain of criticism when she fails. Her steps go wrong; her costume isn’t right; water falls on her head.

Public failure is what the show’s all about: an analogy for the way all performers must risk and accept it in exchange for the possibility of creating something great.

In places, the minimalistic approach relies a bit too heavily on stillness and space. It also strips out a lot of the joys of dance. But when we finally see Grace as a child, doing the routine from which the show is formed, it’s a thought-provoking moment that enables the pain of practice and the polish of performance to sit side by side.

Sally Stott

Until 16 August. Today: 4:25pm.