Gilded Ballon Patter Hoose, Edinburgh – until 23 August 2019
You can’t accuse upcoming composer Finn Anderson of resting on his laurels. His fingerprints are all over this year’s Fringe, from the buzz-worthy Islanders over at Summerhall, to this, Limbo: City Of Dreams.
Devised alongside students of both the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University Chicago, Andersen has set himself a monumental challenge in building a whole dystopian world in just over an hour. If he doesn’t quite succeed in managing this, with its constant frenzied energy never allowing the piece to breathe, it is a work that demonstrates his melodic abilities, delivered with impeccable brio by its Anglo-American cast.
In a city without imagination, where books have all the answers and questions are no longer allowed to be asked, it falls to one girl to be able to save the city with her ability to dream. Katie Lynch plays this girl Imogen with wide-eyed sincerity, at first rebelling against the system she finds herself trapped in and then coming to terms with the idea that the dream she has been sold may not be all its cracked up to be. It is both a coming of age parable and a piece that hints the world can only have its eyes opened when we allow young people the opportunity to question rigid structures.
Yet though both its content and material are worthy, as a piece of theatre it doesn’t fully clasp together. The production’s bright, primary colour aesthetic resembles both the commune of Godspell and a Primary School musical and it seems a little unsure of what age it should be pitching at. Though it seems by its age recommendation to be speaking to teenagers, I have a feeling its happy-clappy stylings are more likely to turn most youngsters off rather than on. It just doesn’t possess that ‘it’ factor that will make teenagers buzz for it.
The performances are preppy and bright. Lynch is a solid, likeable centre but it is Alexa Moster who dazzles as the leader of the alternative community who holds a devastating secret. This American’s vocals are powerful, acting choices on point and she looks a star. In a tough industry, expect her to make it.
RCS has three shows running at the Fringe, another new piece of work that acts as a companion piece Limbo: The Twelve that plays on alternate days, as well as the big musical Legally Blonde playing every morning. Premiering two new musicals every summer is quite a feat and one that allows upcoming artists to try to find their feet in a genre that struggles to offer chances. If the show as a whole isn’t quite right, it does give Andersen the room to hone his craft and a talented ensemble an opportunity to originate roles as well as just stepping into them.