The Herald 26.8.00
Hold onto your peanuts, folks – it’s going to be a bumpy ride! Sign up for a flight with Shunt Air and your final destination maybe a rest home for wannabe vegetarians….Because on route you will have travelled back in time, to 1972 when a plane – chartered by a team of amateur rugby players from Uruguay – crash landed in the remote Andes, and those who survived did so by becoming cannibals. The story in well–known – there was a book and a subsequent film, Alive! – but this young London company succeeds in making a highly individual piece of physical theatre out of it none the less.
Indeed, knowing the story becomes irrelevant because Shunt’s imaginative treatment of it still catches your unawares, dislocates your ordinary expectation of performance through the impact of the hugely ambitious highly effective transformation that spins us, so completely from ditsy comedy to chilling drama.
We board our plane
under the eyelash- fluttering haze of a screwball blonde who is our stewardess;
so far, so nicely silly and funny.
But then the lights go out. What follows is brilliantly disorientating, When dim, emergency strip-lights finally come on we’re in a different time, a distant place – witnesses to that 1972 descent into desperation, and ultimately forced to wonder how we would have coped.
At first there is a surreal, clowning feel to the antics of the cast of five, as they clamber to safety, scavenging bits of food and clothing from the wreckage all around us. But gradually it’s borne in on us that huddling around a two-slice toaster (no bread, only a little heat) or stretching holed tights into impromptu gloves or balaclavas is no game.
The grim thud of a corpse- dropping nearby signals the arrival of a taboo choice. The cannibalism is delicately –all right, then tastefully, handled: Shunt don’t deal cheap sensationalism but they do confront uncomfortable truths and grisly dilemmas with vision, insight, and panache.
(Edinburgh Fringe Festival @ The Pleasance)