… it turns out Lyn Gardner's recommendations are really worth something. My last day in Edinburgh was spent participating in Alma Mater and viewing I Hope My Heart Goes First. What a wonderful way to end my time at the Fringe.
Alma Mater ★★★ is a one-person journey into a child's imagination, powered by an iPad. Looking at the video on the tablet as you would the screen of a camera, you are led into a white bedroom, simplistically furnished with a bed and a chair.
As new objects come into the on-screen room and a child plays around you, the show certainly delivers an odd psychological sensation, tricking your senses of perception by exploiting a vivid spatial link between the film and current reality.
Naturally, this innovative iPerformance welcomes up comparisons with National Theatre Wales' Outdoors, currently running in Aberystwyth. Both test our perceptions, using video to fragment our ideas of place and time. But, while Outdoors allows us to celebrate a place by seeing it through somebody else's eyes, Alma Mater really plays on the uncanny element of simultaneous experience, with quite unsettling results.
I'm really glad that I managed to follow this with I Hope My Heart Goes First ★★★★, a work by Glasgow-based youth company Junction 25. The show has been criticised for an abundant use of cliché in its explanations of love and this can be seen as the teenagers crush bright red tomatoes and sing along to Justin Timberlake's Cry me a River with doubled-over angst. Yes, it is undeniable that such cliché exists here but, remember, there is a reason why we talk of our hearts in such a way. I feel a real strength of this work is that it presents these familiar sensations in a very self-aware and honest manner.
Being in Edinburgh with National Theatre Wales has been such an amazing experience – I've been so lucky to see so many performances, have met plenty of really interesting creatives doing great things across the UK and have built on my critical voice, gaining invaluable knowledge of what's going on this year in theatre.
If you are in the Scottish capital this month, do make time to see The Dark Philosophers. With a certain playfulness that borrows a lot from mime and a mournful musicality that adds a depth as deep as the valleys, this show is a must-see in anyone's Edinburgh schedule. Add Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, Muscle, The Seagull Effect, 2401 Objects, I Hope My Heart Goes First and The Incredible Book Eating Boy and you'll have yourself a pretty spectacular time up there.
All that's left to say is thanks so much to all the staff at National Theatre Wales for letting me join you this week. This trip has been the most amazing adventure for me and is proof that TEAM doesn't just provide valuable industry experience, but also some fantastic opportunities, for which I am immensely grateful.
Right, that's it from me. Keep an eye on @NTWtweets for updates on The Dark Philosophers throughout the festival – I know I will be.
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