The British Theatre Guide: Edinburgh Fringe Review by Alison Burns
6 August 2011
Alma Mater ***** (five stars)
A “filmic tour for one,” Alma Mater by Fish and Game is not to be missed. This twenty minute gem takes place in a full scale child’s bedroom custom built in Remarkable Arts, St George’s West (Venue 157).
After being handed an I-pad the participant is taken on a journey through what is effectively a silent movie.
The beautiful original score from octet Ensemble Thing plays through the headphones as a child allows us a brief glimpse into her life through her bedroom. Fish and Game have created a surreal experience whereby the audience is part of something that it can never be part of. They are in the space watching the drama unfold before them, they can touch it and they are in it, yet at the same time they are not really there. It’s like looking through the window of a house and seeing flashes of action and movement through the glass before the characters move away. The piece certainly lives up to Fish and Game’s ethos of creating work which straddles theatre and live art.
The set is just a white room with one person alone in it yet the magic it creates is spectacular. The cinematography by Anna Chaney is beautiful.
Alma Mater is Latin which translates literally as ‘nourishing mother’ yet it is more commonly used to refer to the school or university at which one has studied. This hints to the fact that Alma Mater is about imparting knowledge. And of course learning and growing up is never easy – for all its beauty, the show is also subtly chilling. There are many motifs for the transience of life and indeed the experience itself is brief. But don’t let the short time slot fool you. Alma Mater is totally engrossing.
The innovative use of technology makes this show stand out. It’s completely different from a traditional theatre piece and the concept is genius.
Alma Mater is billed as ‘unmissable’ – and it’s true.