|Published on Monday, 27 August 2012|
As first in line, I’m also the first to have the privilege of being greeted inside this darkened attic room by a man flossing his teeth in his vest and pants. This man is Vachel Spirasson, a man of many eccentric talents.
We are encouraged to start with a clap, for no reason other than it feels good. Then we begin. Vachel confesses he is a storyteller, “lock me up,” he says, clasping his hands in imaginary cuffs, “I’m a storyteller… punch me through a phone book.” He is here to tell us a ‘true’ story about a time he was doing a show in Auckland, took a ferry to an island, got lost and met a naked man carrying nothing but a Woolworth’s cool bag who offered a truth or dare. But it’s not as simple as that.
The show unravels into a fragmented physical comic masterpiece where vivid characters – all played by the same man – appear at intermittent spells. The first time it happens it catches you off-guard, then throughout the show you are on the edge anticipating the next interruption, as Spirassoon recovers time and again from his ‘blackouts’ and continues his story of spiralling insanity as if nothing had happened.
The characters are expertly moulded; each has its recognisable quirks: with just a single prop the character morphs before us. There’s the cat-obsessed simpleton with a neck brace who wants a friend, the Salt & Pepper backing dancer, the Eastern European chess champion, and my personal favourite: the Spanish flamenco dancer, Juan, who has cut his six hour dance down to two and wants us to take him more seriously.
This is a journey of the imagination; a story of insanity, of people and mystery, that asks you not to over-analyse it for fear you may go blind with confusion. It is one of the most ambitious projects I’ve seen this year. Spirasson’s ability to switch, at the ring of a bell, from a lonely, crazy Arkansas man into a world-beating figure skater is nothing short of genius, not to mention hilarious. He tears down the wall he placed in front of us, sometimes leaping – quite literally – into the audience. By the end you just have to applaud a phenomenal piece of physical comedy.
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FROM OUR ARCHIVES
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.