The Greatest Theatrical Event… Ever!
Paradise in the Vault – The Annexe
20:30 (ends 25th August)
🌟🌟 (Two Star)
Flashback to a week ago when I was walking up the Royal Mile and I saw some people in Edwardian dress handing out flyers with pins attached to them. Flashforward to me walking into the theatre for The Greatest Theatre Event…Ever! (yes, that’s the name), finally having worked out the name of the show, but still in a relative state of confusion, which the show itself did nothing to alleviate but in fact, contributed to.
The Greatest Theatre Event…Ever is a 3 person play that takes you through the history of The Carlisle, a theatre which seems to have a habit of spontaneously combusting. It is essentially a series short sketches that are altogether rather random, but full of 4th wall breaks and one-liners that do manage to make you laugh. The different sketches within the show are explained by at least one of the narrators, and although they would be rather confusing without an introduction, the shortness of each scene gives the show a patchy feel, which means it doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere in particular. The narrators didn’t particularly add much to the show in the end apart from some exposition which only contributed to the show’s issue of patchiness. The show couldn’t decide what it was or wasn’t trying to be, and by the end, if asked I wouldn’t be able to say whether it was a comedy, a critique on social issues, or a satire about theatre.
The show was rather ridiculous and works if the aim is to make fun of theatre and the different stereotypes that exist within it and the arts in general. Apart from that, there isn’t much to it. The storyline – if it exists at all – is hectic and only really makes sense if you have caught and remembered all of the names that were dropped throughout the play. Sure, there aren’t many but at the time of that particular scene with that particular character, it doesn’t seem important because there doesn’t seem to be a connection. The actors had a lot of information that they were trying to get out very quickly, though much of it gets lost because of sheer volume that is being directed at you. This non-stop exposition gets very tiring very quickly.
I started to wonder if the show would change at all if some element was removed, and I decided that it wouldn’t. This either means that everything within it is either completely necessary or unnecessary. My conclusion was the latter.
I left the theatre in the same state of confusion that I had before seeing The Greatest Theatrical Event… Ever, slightly alleviated by the fact that I now understood where I got the initial impression that it had something to do with the Titanic. I by no means would call this the greatest theatrical event ever and calling it by that name is definitely a case of false advertising, for it is mediocre at best. Whilst this show fits with the experimental spirit of the Fringe, it just falls short of being an experimental show that is worth seeing.
Katerina Partolina Schwartz (Twitter: @katpschwartz)