Fringe Fest

Opening day for Fringe Fest 2012 was last Thursday, and Tuesday marked the second show I’d had the pleasure of attending. While Monday’s “Geek Quest 4.0” was an outstanding comedy, and very true to the geek culture that was, lamentably (?) on the periphery of my youth, today’s “Eidolon” [Greek for “spirit” or “ghost”] was altogether different, and outstanding in its own right.

The stage was set all in black, but for a white cello case and photographer’s umbrella (or whatever it’s called) on the floor to the left and right of Francesca’s chair, and a large screen above and behind the musician’s head. These all (chair excepted) served as screens for the often bizarre imagery developed by the other half of the team, a British man called Tim, who remained an invisible presence in the room. Francesca, a thin, frail wisp hailing form the distant land of New Zealand, drifted to her chair as if on marionette strings. Dressed in a Gothic doll outfit reminiscent of Tim Burton, she spoke nary a word throughout the production, save for the brief “Thank You” message after the conclusion of the 45 minute piece.

“Eidolon” is not a play, but an extended cello solo, intended to capture the rich world of emotion and nature. it was played beautifully, accompanied by a few backing soundtracks and repeated motifs, recorded and played back through the same song, much as was observed in Final Fantasy’s concert with LOLA in 2009.

Each section was played for emotional impact, rather than a demonstration of technical prowess that might more accurately describe the work of the guitarists I’ve been listening to of late (Antoine Dufour and Andy Mckee, in particular). I’ve yet to hear a cello played quickly, and its vertical dynamic range is challenged by its own physical structure, but many sections did show, however briefly, a deftness of fingering, a speed and agility at leaping to the exact position from one end of the neck to the other, and Francesca even successfully drew three strings at once (though I admit I do not know how difficult this is in practise).

The music played was of her own composition, and I know of no better term than “Baroque” to describe it, as it simultaneously conjures “dark and sombre” with “beautiful” in a single word, though I am also aware that the term simply refers to a  specific time period in music history. The whole of the performance was haunting, and a joy to hear.

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