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Flaneurs
Published on Tuesday, 07 August 2012
4

4 stars

Summerhall (venue website)
Theatre
3-16, 19-26 Aug, 2:00pm-3:00pm
Reviewed by Lynne Morris

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

For those unfamiliar with the Summerhall venue, it is a festival must. Flâneurs by Jenna Watt is sensitive work that benefits from being set in an eerie demonstration auditorium, at the back of the former Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The stark and unsettling space lends to the sensation that this performer has invited you into her world, through inevitability if not true choice.

Built upon an autobiographical framework, Watt takes you on a tour of Edinburgh, putting a name to an inescapable concept: Psycho-Geography. Without the work becoming too personal, real-life experiences are used to dissect the concept of associating experiences and their related emotions to our surroundings. Among my only reservations is that setting the piece in Edinburgh feels a little trite. In reality the location is of little relevance when the work straddles concerns that are so much greater.

The grim tale of a violent attack unfolds and is handled with consideration, allowing for connection to the issues without being overpowering. There were opportunities for Watt to use the gritty potential of the subject matter with more force, yet admirably, this young woman has the confidence to know when to stop. Flâneurs is written sensitively and performed with genuine warmth, leaving space for the audience to internalise and interpret the story independently.

A careful blend of props, visuals and audio serve to keep this piece accessible and light, as it explores “the bystander effect” – our unwillingness to intervene when bad things happen in front of us. Watt manages to confront the audience and question our responses to unexpected, often violent situations, discussing uncomfortable material without the piece becoming aggressive or upsetting. The questions Flâneurs asks will find their way into your subconscious, leaving you contemplative long after leaving Summerhall.

This is a great opportunity to support young and modern writing, that transforms potentially heavy subject matter into an experience with a positive, affirming sentiment. You will think of the talented Watt the next time you rethink a journey to avoid a certain street or building, as this show offers a theatre experience with longer lasting effects than many. The tension would be heightened with a larger audience – so please give it a try. And tell your friends to do likewise.

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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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