A Matter of Time
The Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156)
Glasgow based poet Ross MacFarlane greets the audience into the Banqueting Hall of the Banshee Labyrinth. Despite our desire to applaud the end of a poem, we are told to resist this urge. This a show in four voices, Ross explains, flanked by fellow poets Bibi June, Ellen Renton, and Shannon MacGregor. They are here to tell the story of a life, or lives, or Life. The following 40 minutes are a rare hush in the informal epicentre of the PBH Spoken Word program.
Each poet stands, sits, sings, and intercuts each other throughout “A Matter of Time.” They each wear a red baseball hat, never explained, but intimated towards some connected spirit. The poet’s work within loosely repeated imagery; MacGregor muses on Greek mythological figures while Renton walks the perimeter of childhood.
The poets rarely acknowledge each other, only doing so at latter end of the show. At this point, first person meditations give way to second person address, as an argument begins to take shape. The argument feels large, complex. At first I thought this was an affirmation of survival in the face of tragedy. Now it feels larger, more intangible to describe, an argument that rests in the unquiet dreams of music and lyricism.
The phrase “spirit of the Fringe” is often quoted, and rarely explained. 70 years after eight theatre companies turned up uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe is its own behemoth. You will be tempted by glamour and professionalism. “A Matter of Time” offers a gently acidic counterbalance. Four local artists created something daringly artistic, rugged, and brave. At points the curtain tips, and we see the nakedness of a newborn show. Yet, without this newness, the Edinburgh Fringe can only become old, cynical, and tired.
There is the heart of an excellent show here. It is at points rushed, and could benefit with a theatrical eye for the shape of a scene. With time, some direction, some editing, each of these artists will go on to produce something truly outstanding. If we are fortunate, we will see more from this quartet.