Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
August 12, 2018
The audience walks in to film of silhouetted figures in a funeral procession. What follows is a look at the beginning and end of life, young childhood and old age, depicted in a series of often very funny scenes by those masters of mime, and always popular Fringe visitors, Familie Flöz. As with all their productions, what is so scary is that it’s all desperately close to the truth.
Using exaggerated movement and their famous masks, which manage to convey so much expression despite being fixed, parallels are drawn between the characters fresh out of the cradle in the nursery and close to the grave in the old peoples’ home. The relationships, despite having developed in the intervening decades, remain essentially the same.
A series of sketches flip between the mournful (not too much of that) and slapstick, and between the two times and locations. The scenes in the nursery are an absolute gem, especially anything involving the youngest of the quartet, still very much a baby. It must have taken many hours of watching to get so accurately the movement of a roughly one-year-old toddler. If there is better acting at this year’s Fringe, I’ll be amazed.
The illusion of scale of the nursery is cleverly created via an oversize playpen and chair. There’s a super extended scene where the infant tries to shift the chair to get back into his pen after an earlier escape. Being children, there has to be nursery wars, of course, mostly over a doll.
Shifting forward to the old folks’ home, and it’s impossible to not to see the likeness between the men’s rooms and tombs. The action often has a Chaplin-esque feel to it. Well, why not? Silent movie, silent play.
A old man in a wheelchair is left by his daughter, and finds solace in the piano. Another resident jabs his walking stick at anyone and everyone. A shy man in dressing gown lives for his medication, actually for any medication as the poor nurse who tries to keep order finds out. Hardly surprising, as when he does take his or anyone else’s pills, he becomes a new man, as lively and hyperactive as any teenager.
Masters of timing, the performers connect with the audience brilliantly throughout. There’s also a scene that sees a giant purple ball thrown and kicked back and forth with the audience. At this show, that led to some hilarious improvisation from the cast when one person refused to play ball as throw it back, tossing it elsewhere instead.
One or two moments are overplayed a little, a scene with a radio and aerial in the old peoples’ home being a classic example. But generally the time simply flies past, and the finale, with the men now in white suits (a hint at angels maybe) joshing musically with their sticks is a super way to finish.
Infinita by Familie Flöz is at the Pleasance Courtyard to August 27. Visit tickets.edfringe.com for details and tickets.