EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: LOOP, Underbelly Cowgate
Three stories unfold across the decades. In the Sixties, a girl embarks on an adventure into the unknown as she moves to the hip, soulful North. In the Eighties, a young couple meet at a concert and fall in love. In the Noughties, a young man hopes to make it big on London's club scene, but flounders in the anonymous metropolis.
In Loop, three generations of the same family are all united by their love of the music of their own time, but often struggle to relate to one another. Music is portrayed here as the symbol of an era and a touchstone for that period's youth. With the typical "Turn that down" dismissals of parents, however, this theatrical compilation album is drawn into a metaphor for an inter-generational failure to connect.
With music's central place in the narrative, it's no surprise that Loop boasts a great soundtrack, with everything from Marvin Gaye to Adam Ant mashed up into a catchy mix that will get toes tapping in audiences of any age.
Brought to the Fringe by Boxless Theatre, this is a visually stunning example of physical theatre at its finest. Particularly in the lengthy monologue sections, the four performers are constantly in motion, conjuring up vibrant, imaginative scenes with only their bodies and four boxes. It's a joy to watch, thanks to the expert movement direction of Zoe Grain.
The cast of four put in a huge amount of energy, maintaining an often frenetic pace with skill and precision. While this is very much an ensemble piece, each actor is given the opportunity to shine in both monologues and interactive scenes, where Emily Costello's cheeky Eighties teen girl, all sparkles and big hair, is a distinct highlight.
Like a compilation album, there are many fantastic segments, but the whole does not always manage to better the sum of its parts. The three stories tend towards the trite, and are given only the slightest hint of resolution in an ending that feels a little tacked on. This could perhaps have been fixed with more interweaving of the three narratives, rather than being a purely chronological piece giving the sense of leading up to something that does not materialise.
With outstanding direction, performances and movement, Loop is a fantastically stylish production. With a little more kick in the script, it could truly sing.