Review By Lisa Lanzi
I finally got to visit The Yurt this Fringe - a brand new, welcoming construct by Nick Phillips for this year’s Festival and situated in the courtyard of The Migration Museum. It is intimate, flexible, and without a central pole so sightlines are perfect; and for this show, the close proximity to the performer is charming, as if we are all close confidantes.
In tandem with Jess Clough-MacRae’s direction, Britt Plummer has crafted a contemporary fairy-tale. It is a love story with obstacles aplenty, and an ending that gives… well, you really need to see and experience it yourself. They lead us through the journey of love, lust, hope, and fate with a combination of text, song, clowning, clown-puppetry, and physical theatre. It is utterly delightful to be so close to this performer who is a virtuoso at delivering focus, expressive physicality, and nuanced acting. There is also adept use of audience interaction and with just gentle persuasion folks were totally up for their assigned tasks.
The narrative begins in the present moment with subdued wedding march background as if the audience are early arrivals at a wedding celebration, our ‘bride’ still in her rather exquisite corset (by visual artist, Chelsea Farquhar), bloomers and bathrobe. From there, we are led to an earlier time and the excitement of another Fringe, a meeting between two like-minded artists, a blossoming romance, and artistic partnership as well. So this, it seems, is a story based on life and just like life, sh*t happens. Beset with issues of distance, partner-visa shenanigans, and that pandemic issue, Plummer performatively relates the highs, lows, travel woes, and domestic middle-ground of a relationship.
Props are an important part of this fable and with some quite prosaic objects (mop head, takeaway coffee cups, cutlery) Plummer creates the rich world of her memory, her ‘tall Swedish clown’, and several locations. One simple motif illustrates the vast amounts of travel involved in this tale with the recitation of a verbal list and a stroll from one side of the space to the other, and back and forth, as destinations are revealed. Another gorgeous moment is the Covid-style international travel trial. Accompanied by the realistic white noise sound of a plane interior, the performer ritualises the mask-wearing, sanitising, wipe-down rituals many of us obsessed about. Other whimsical physical and textual moments are performed as vignettes, sometimes to music, and sometimes as direct address to the audience. Music also punctuates or backgrounds the emotional ride with some hackneyed but entirely appropriate songs. Think George Benson - ‘Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You’ or Richard Marx - ‘Right Here Waiting’, or Joni Mitchell - ‘Both Sides Now’. Plummer also belts out her own version of ‘Maybe This Time’ from Cabaret.
There are many precious moments, emotions, and plot details in Fool’s Paradise but I don’t intend to give away the whole story. It is a tiny gem, and very much suited to a Fringe Festival but it is Plummer’s performance and skill that has an audience riveted. It is definitely worth a visit to The Yurt to support this artist and producer.