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Frank Sidebottom The Home of the Retrospective


Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well! Live stage shows in Central Scotland, be they Shakespeare or avant-garde.

Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Closed Doors @ Summerhall

This music-based play combines spoken-word rap courtesy of Belle Jones and a musical accompaniment by Novasound’s Audrey Tait and Lauren Gilmour. The latter also intermittently sings and takes on various spoken character roles. It depicts a multicultural Glaswegian community in turmoil as the police swoop in, blue lights flashing, to investigate a local incident. At the centre of the story is a lonely, ageing woman named Maggie, who harbours her own irrational prejudices against the mysterious neighbours who have moved in during recent years.

Closed Doors tackles a rather pressing issue amongst many communities up and down Britain - i.e. an undercurrent of mistrust against people of different cultures which is often perpetuated by the mass media. More commendably, it endeavours to offer a solution by suggesting that those who are most susceptible to the constant diet of fear and hate are those who don’t take the time to get to know the people of other cultures who live, as the show’s title suggests, “behind closed doors” in their neighbourhood. The observations, while arguably a little simplified from real life, are canny enough to inspire some measure of sad recognition.

The three performers here are clearly talented and make for an engaging, if rather eccentric on-stage combination. Belle Jones’s spoken word character pieces are lively, colourful and often caustically funny. Lauren Gilmour solidly juggles keyboard duties with some smaller spoken roles and, from time to time, singing in a beautiful, earnestly melodic voice. However, the switches between dialogue and singing can feel a tad jarring on occasion. Audrey Tait’s catchy, diverse rhythmic accompaniment adds another dimension to the music.

There is also a rather underdeveloped visual component courtesy of a rear projector screen. Firstly, it is only used near the beginning and end of the show. Secondly, the images we are presented with (representing a few neighbourhood buildings) look like they were rather hastily put together using a graphic design application. While this aspect doesn’t spoil the show overall (and wasn’t even a particularly necessary inclusion), it feels rather like an afterthought.

While Closed Doors isn’t perfect by any means, it is well worth checking out for its inventive approach to tackling a worthy and well-observed story. It is also available as a book and studio album.

Watch a video:

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2018 logo

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