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Sing, River at Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One) Edinburgh Fringe

An aura of mystery arises from the portrayal – wait for it – of an underground kingdom, and not an extant one either, but one that can apparently be resurrected. Some links are made between Nathaniel Jones’ unnamed character living in the ‘real’ world, and trying to get the gods of the other one to do his bidding. The worship of the gods, if one can call it that, came across to me as rather self-indulgent, and frankly almost as if he were treating the powers that be as some kind of self-service checkout at the supermarket: do the equivalent of ‘insert cash or select payment type’, follow all the steps and then walk out with whatever it is he wanted.

Sing, RiverThe narrator also seems a bit confused on occasion, at one point saying he did not want to say too much about his love life, but providing further particulars in any event. There’s an impending deadline, though it wasn’t quite clear to me what precisely would happen to whom by the time dawn breaks – we’re told ‘Midsummer’ happens once a year (we knew that much), though I couldn’t help thinking that with meticulous planning, if he doesn’t achieve what he wants or needs to this year, surely he could return the following year and try again.

A connection is made between the ‘golden age’ of the extinct civilisation underwater and the ‘golden age’ of his life, which he believes to be his teenage years. It looks like he’s had a very decent upbringing – I hated being a teenager, though perhaps it says something about how lousy his adulthood has been to date. The songs are easy on the ears, and Jones’ singing voice is beautiful to listen to, but the lullaby-like feel to a couple of tunes had an almost too successful effect on me – it was touch and go.

I did like the idea of an entire night’s events being crammed into an hour – a far better proposition than the other way around. But the show has got to decide what it wants to emphasise: there seem to be some deep-seated issues going on in the character’s life, but I’m not sure indulging in a clearly overactive imagination is going to do much, if anything, to resolve them. An eerie and suspenseful atmosphere is created through the songs and soundscape, but in the end, it’s overambitious for a one-act, one-hour show, with a few too many narrative strands.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Midsummer comes but once a year. As the season shift like clockwork, there are secrets lurking on the riverbed. In the darkest moments before the dawn, the river sings. Set on the riverbed, deep beneath the surface of the River Thames, Sing, River follows one person’s journey in an imagined world, where a supernatural being can help them bury the trauma of sexual abuse. In this murky underwater haven, the character is able to find solace from the messiness of the modern world, seeking the innocence and weightlessness of their past.

Sing, River
Wednesday 2nd – Sunday 27th August (not 9th, 16th, 23rd), 11:45
Running Time: 60 minutes
Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ

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