oNE beer and a cheerS
"uninspired physical theatre"
By Charlie Thurston | 13th August 2022 | Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh Fringe Festival | 🍺🍻
Zoë opens with a poem, delicately written and projected white on black against an upturned table. “Do you know what Zoë is?” The voice rings muffled from speakers unseen, the letters floating upwards and peeling away to make room for the next. “Zoë is the roar.”
It’s an enchanting opening which showcases not only a minimalist creative design but also a faint promise of things yet to come. The stage is lined with hard hats, the table held gently in place by an unseen performer and the written verse compelling; unnerving; gesturing at something just out of reach. In these first three minutes Zoë writhes with potential, but her hand is unfortunately far misplayed.
As the poem draws to a close the drop in quality is pronounced and immediate. What was a quiet, minimalist projection is replaced by poorly crafted CG renders of sprouting pathways that uncannily resemble various Windows 95 screensavers, suspended amateurly by hand and splashed haphazardly against the back wall. Enter our three performers, decked in comically silly costumes which clash terribly with the solemn atmosphere the piece attempts to create. The remainder of the show takes the form of an hour of uninspired physical theatre and acrobatics. All three performers visibly struggle throughout and continually appear to be one bad breath from a fall or major technical error. The ponderous, measured writing which characterised the opening is entirely foregone and what little spoken dialogue remains is shrieked staccato about the stage against a background score of thoughtless discordant instrumentation. Broken pieces of what might have been a plot line are scattered here and there with little semblance of thematic or narrative consistency. 
Despite modest improvements towards the finale, the magic of those first three minutes is sadly never rekindled. The physical theatre that constitutes the majority of the performance is ungraceful, imprecise and unambitious. Zoë promises a roar; it manages only a splutter.
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