Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
Sunday 6th August 15.15
A number of the blurbs in the festival brochure can be quite generic and do not catch the eye. As I am always looking for something a little different the words "gay, autistic and comedy opera" certainly caught my attention.
So, what greets us when we enter the auditorium? Well, basically, a cacophony of sound. Robert explains that what follows
is a true story based on his life but most of the sound is provided by his partner in the sound booth. What first strikes you is
the sound level. It is loud , and frankly, you never quite get to grips with it. It is like Phil Spector's Wall of Sound , turned up
This has 2 effects. On the plus side it grabs your attention and you are forced to concentrate extremely hard as you want to
hear every word. On the minus side it is often hard to hear the lyrics, which is a great shame as I would compare some of
what I heard to Tim Minchin. ( Not a comparison I make easily).
However, I will state that, despite my above comments I loved the show. I loved the fact that it ticked the "only in Edinburgh"
box and is a truly unique, original and personal performance which beguiled me from beginning to end. He has certainly
had an eventful life, to put it mildly and it is both interesting and appalling to discover how events spiralled out of control so
Robert is an engaging performer, happy to reveal his shortcomings but he is clearly bitter about the way society has viewed his inability to interact "normally" as a criminal act rather than as someone in need of help. And this is the 21st century, not Victorian times! This show is clearly meant to be seen as an indictment of our current uncaring society which is upsetting to watch and in a show billed as a comedy can be a little jarring.
This is an uneven show but I was happy to emotionally invest in the various ups and downs, the like of which I cannot really recall in 31 years of the Edinburgh fringe (though Lewis Schaffer is similarly dealing with raw events at this festival). My companions were a little more critical listing the deafening sound and a slightly self-pitying tone in the piece as a reason why they didn't enjoy it as much as me.
And that, for me, is the joy of the Edinburgh festival. Everyone pays their money and is therefore entitled to their opinion. So, if you fancy something completely unusual I would recommend Robert White - InstruMENTAL, it will certainly get you discussing the show long after it ends!!