Total Theatre - Total Theatre Award Winners 12.3.00
With such limited time allowed for get-ins and set strikes, it’s no wonder that so much theatre on the fringe is visually unambitious. Full-marks therefore, must go to Shunt for transposing their brilliant site-specific show, The Ballad of Bobby Francois , from the East End railway arch for which it was originally created, to Edinburgh University’s student’s union building, without compromising for a moment on its technical realisation. In fact, although the Edinburgh venue could not match Shunt’s London base for atmosphere, arguably in every other respect the show gone from strength to strength since it London run last year.
A totally engaging participatory experience, Shunt involve their audience from the moment they arrive. The stylised recreation of an airplane crash in 1972 – when a jet carrying a team of young ruby players went down in the Andes, The Ballad of Bobby Francois takes its audience on an exhilarating and doomed light aboard Shunt Air. From its comic opening in which aboard air hostess issues garbled safety instructions whilst swigging surreptitiously from the sprit miniatures on the mini-bar, the show soon descends into bleaker territory: the icy Andean landscaped in which the few survivors of the crash emerge dazed and terrified to wait for their rescuers. With scant resources, as the days pass, there’s only one option left for them to stay alive – they must cannibalise one of their deceased team-mates.
Avoiding sensationalism what is undoubtedly a ghastly scenario, Shunt create a subtle and evocative performance that is at times darkly comic, but also quietly moving.
(Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Total Award Winners)