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Bye Bye World
Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012
5

5 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
Theatre
15-26 Aug, 11:35am-12:35pm
Reviewed by Allison Mckeon

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

A saccharine nineties anthem warbled, “Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room?” Olga, a thirty-something year old wife and social butterfly (“I have 24 friends!”) would certainly have answered yes. Olga has nice things and a doting husband but, having somewhere disengaged from her life, feels the inexplicable itch to be free of it all.

Conversely, Dino is an accomplished celloist with a solitary life. (“Two dates a year!” pronounces the narrator; “It must be more than that…” protests Dino weakly.) She has an ordinary flat, a Spartan routine, and a mother who calls regularly but fails to reconcile the generic distance between her daughter and herself. Dino begins to recognize that rather than disconnected, she is instead untethered – and decides, like Olga, to disappear and start afresh.

The performance is austere and raw. There are a couple of wooden crates as props; the actresses are dressed simply in a skirt, a dress, and they stray from the stage occasionally into the vacant spaces behind the rows of seats. The use of silence is masterful: it’s rare for a gap between lines to keep you rapt rather than make you look around to check if you’ve missed something. Another outstanding component of the show is Dino’s mimed underwater attempt to hold her breath for as long as possible, which, while grotesque and awkward, is a gorgeous visual metaphor for the show’s main theme of struggling against inevitability.

The dialogue is deliberate and clean, and the characters are written immaculately. Particularly superb are the interactions between Henry (her husband) and Olga; perfect portraits of banality, all her obliged monosyllables, and an air of claustrophobia, awful in the face of his oblivious chatter. The switch, every few minutes, from one character’s life to the other is always seamless. And though each actress actually plays several secondary roles, at no point is it even remotely confusing. Bye Bye World is spectacularly well done – never has a show about boredom been so riveting.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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