Friday 23 August 2013

Edinburgh Fringe 2013 - Freeze, or, Odd, Impressive, Intense and Unclassifiable

Note: The show plays at Summerhall until Sunday 25th August from 6.15-6.45pm.

If I suggested to you that you might like to spend 40 minutes watching a Belgian Rock Balancer I suspect that even for Edinburgh in Festival you might think this was going a little far. But I can assure you it's worth it.

The set consists of 6 mirrored boxes on and around which are scattered various stones in a variety of shapes and sizes – it should be emphasised that none of them at first glance look easy to balance on any of the others. Kneeling centre stage, all in black with something that looks vaguely like a head torch but isn't strapped to his head is the Nick Steur, the Rock Balancer in question.

Once the audience is seated, a fair bit of voice over begins. This is somewhat impenetrable and to do partly with a Dutch saying about cats. I'm not sure whether one is intended to take much notice of it, and in practice I don't think it matters much – for me its main effect was to slightly leaven the atmosphere, while Steur does his thing.

And that's much needed. Watching Steur nurse these stones into unbelievable balanced piles is intense. It wasn't until I left the performance space that I realised quite how tense I'd been. I started holding my breath, feeling I shouldn't move a muscle. The fragility of the whole enterprise was underlined by the fact that a couple of the boxes did get broken but that should absolutely not be taken as a negative remark – this is a show on that kind of edge – and even when one of the structures is short lived it's still remarkable.

This is a display of unclassifiable artistry. Don't miss it.

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