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Caroline Mabey's One Minute Silence
Published on Monday, 22 August 2011

3 stars

Just The Tonic at the Caves (venue website)
4-16, 18-28 Aug, 6:15pm-7:15pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Caroline Mabey’s second solo Edinburgh show is another blend of surreal whimsy, and the cute animations for which she is becoming best-known. This show’s premise is that Mabey is training us to withstand a one minute silence – a useful way to find inner “calmth”.

Mabey is a wonderfully silly presence throughout. Her reassuring greeting as we enter the space, the sweetly judged audience participation and the gentle farewell all add to the show's strange and interesting vibe, reminiscent of a self-help lecture. Some moments feel genuinely inspired: the nomination of an audience medic named “Doctor Hospital”, the list of rules for a one minute silence (which, apparently, may be changed at any time), and the constant dwelling on the possibility of madness or fatalities that will be caused by our participation in the risky business of sitting in silence for a whole minute.

But, a lot more of the show just fell flat. The Saturday evening audience didn’t seem prepared for Mabey’s spaced-out style – she even asked one person if they wanted to leave, and they seemed pleased to take her up on the offer. The whole thing wasn’t helped by the uproarious laughter leaking through the walls from WitTank next door. And I was surprised that Mabey didn’t make more of her flat audience and the “minute’s silence” theme. She seems a very confident performer, but she just couldn’t make this room fly.

I couldn’t help wondering if the show’s intimate style was being lost in the vaults of the room. Perhaps a more modest space would have made it easier for Mabey to instil the close-knit mentality she wanted. As an animator, perhaps she is used to the small-scale and the sweetly slight and silly – here I think she needed either a smaller room, or a bigger show. 

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