52 Souls at Edinburgh Fringe Online
Being an artist means pushing boundaries. Part of what makes art so exciting is that the concept of the medium itself is constantly changing as new work gets made. One way in which performers have begun to change theatre in recent years is to bring in an element of chance. Back in 2015, Poltergeist Theatre’s show xx at the Edinburgh Fringe used an algorithm to determine the order of the scenes in any given performance. Immersive shows with different rooms to go into do something similar, like The Great Gatsby in London. This year, the Edinburgh Fringe has an online “pick and mix” button that directs you to random one-minute performances. All of these various forms create a different experience for each audience member.
52 Souls brings this idea very successfully into “Corona times”. The show lets each audience member build their own theatrical experience. It is very simple: you hold a pack of 52 cards and each card you pick leads you to a one- to five-minute sketch on YouTube. The pieces are usually comic, but all of them deal with death in some way.
It is a bit like a Covid-19 Fringe Festival. Some sketches are hilarious, others fall flat, but all are fresh, new work that surprises and defies convention in a certain way. But the most beautiful thing is that it feels like wandering down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh with a jacket potato in hand, and just floating into a pub and watching a show. The uncertainty of what you might find under each card brings an exciting element of surprise; each sketch is like opening a present.
Ultimately, like any performance at the Fringe, particular performances are more successful than others. The Queen of Spades was a very pleasant surprise and the Six of Diamonds by Amber Wadey a tragic masterpiece. Other highlights include The Ace, Three and Eight of Diamonds.
52 Souls is a fresh and exciting initiative that marks a toe-dip into the possibilities of theatre under the “new normal” of Covid-19.
Photo: Chronic Insanity
52 Souls is at the Edinburgh Fringe Online from 24th August until 6th September 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.