Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Set in a post-apocalyptic future in which cities have been buried by giant sandstorms, Frozen Light Theatre’s immersive show is aimed specifically at people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) but that’s not to say that there’s nothing here for anyone else – far from it.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
In fact, a great many theatre companies could take lessons in stagecraft and how to engage any audience from this necessarily simple tale.
The play follows two women, Scarlet and Olive (played by artistic directors Lucy Garland and Amber Onat Gregory) sole survivors thrown together by circumstance, as they try to learn to trust each other, forge a friendship and learn to co-operate in order to work out a survival plan. The metaphor for what people who cope with PMLD have to deal with daily is clear but it’s never hammered home. The obvious care put into set and costume design (all Mad Max dusters and sand goggles) creates its own reality. Musical director Al Watts provides an impressively varied live soundtrack that incorporates driving rock beats and inventive, gentle “getting-to-know-you” numbers – every audience member coping with PMLD gets their name incorporated into a song. However, it’s the tactile, sensory elements that make this truly immersive. At various points in the story the audience are invited to plunge their hands into sand, then later glisteningly wet tapioca balls, stare into a box that contains the jewel-like night sky and play with bubbles (always a winner with any audience, that).
Although – perhaps unavoidably – light on dramatic tension, the introduction of Watts as a third character could come a little sooner than five minutes before the end as it might provide a more useful narrative wrinkle, but it’s hard to quibble with such a consistently engaging, imaginative show.
Until 28 August. Today 10:30am.