Venue 139 Assembly Roxy
Dates 15-26 (Excluding Monday 20th)
**** (4 stars)
Like most productions at the Fringe, I had no idea what to expect when I walked into Assembly Roxy to see Sediment. The stage was dark, set with an acoustic piano with its front cover missing, a single wooden chair and a vintage TV set with loose book pages scattered on top. From the offset, it had the stark atmosphere of Russian austerity and bleakness. Billed as circus/physical theatre based on Dostoevsky’s novel Notes from the Underground, I braced myself for an hour of existential wrangling.
There was indeed much wrangling but there was an unexpected sweetness and element of comedy throughout the show. It opened with Carberry wrestling with himself alone in the chair onstage. The Underground Man is alone and isolated, his life narrowed until it consists of this one room. Birds tweet in a high, jarring and nervous manner, making it uncomfortable to bear at times but portraying the character’s state of mind.
Light is used in a clever way, when a girl appears on stage behind the curtain we are dazzled by a bright glaring light illuminating her figure and projecting her exaggerated shadow on to the curtain. It highlights the importance of her entrance to the Underground Man’s sheltered world.
The performance is mostly silent with no dialogue except when the girl (Alice Muntz) tries to speak but is silenced by Carberry in a hilarious almost slapstick routine. Throughout the show, Muntz performs incredible acrobatic feats, pulling herself up on to the trapeze by the back of her neck.
The absence of applause is unnerving to begin with, but the audience soon accepts that these remarkable tricks are part of the storytelling. Perhaps they are
more impressive because there is no sense of grandeur or showmanship, the acrobatics are seamlessly incorporated into the story.
Intelligent, literary circus. A must see.