THE ANNIVERSARY at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“what starts out as gentle clowning eventually descends into a surreal experience of maniacal energy”
The Australian company Salvador Dinosaur is visiting the Edinburgh Fringe this year, and how lucky we are that it is. Performers Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias are Jim and Barb in The Anniversary. An elderly couple celebrating their 50th anniversary, you think, throwing a big party to celebrate the event. How sweet. But what starts out as gentle clowning eventually descends into a surreal experience of maniacal energy, which the audience is drawn into—whether they like it or not. Salvador Dinosaur don’t hesitate to go for broke in this show. In fact, everything gets broken by the end, and the weather plays its part. With climate change a big theme at the Edinburgh Fringe this year—that’s just one more reason to go soak up the mad Aussie humour in The Anniversary.
Once The Anniversary begins—and it is a slow beginning—we meet the lucky couple at home, getting ready for their big day. They’re cooking, setting the tables, and putting up balloons. There is even a box of fireworks. Of course this is all foreshadowing, and at some point, we just know something bad is going to go down. Jim and Barb have some issues, it is true, but they’re working through them, the way people who’ve lived together a long time tend to do. They manage each other’s health problems, help out with domestic duties, and even tolerate pets that they’re not that into. Bartholomew and Tobias don’t say any of this. Their performances are a combination of physical action, and inarticulate mutterings punctuated by “Oh Jim” a lot. And reference to their beloved pets, a cat and a bunny. But for every moment of domestic familiarity, or recognizable moments, something rather disturbing is emerging. Jim and Barb run in and out of doorways, carrying party items. But other, more ominous things. Maybe it’s the rat trap, or Jim’s wild and undisciplined energy with a staple gun, or Barb’s pill popping habit when she begins to feel stressed. Maybe it’s the creepy bird noises that Jim hears when he goes outside to rescue kitty from the rain and thunder. It all comes together in an inspired showdown featuring storm and stress, barbecued rats and yes, nudity. And that is just the build up the stunning ending that this dazzling duo somehow manage to pull off in such a small space.
Go see The Anniversary. It’s inspired silliness performed by two brilliant actors. I can’t wait to see what they dream up next.
Reviewed 7th August 2022
by Dominica Plummer
Photography by Embellysh
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