It really is true what they say about the Fringe in that some of the best shows you will see you go into blindly. Having randomly opted for something that screamed out the words “electronic music”, “Doctor Who” and “Hymns for Robots” curiosity got the better of me and I think the Fringe is the one time of year where the cat does not get killed. Or certainly shouldn’t.
Somewhat of an obtuse piece using binary digital and analogue music to culminate a show that dedicated it’s time to Delia Derbyshire, best known for her time with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and her much adored and now populist electronic theme for Doctor Who. Combining the narrative of her history in what seemed a chronological order with an interesting use of props and a tiny stage, as well as the audibly pleasing sounds emanating from the stage, this was a rather eccentric telling of Derbyshire’s tale, one that she may have been fond of herself back in the sixties whilst working in the Radiophonic Workshop. A trailblazer of electronic music, I am sure she would take pleasure in this being a sonic as well as a visual experience.
Performing as Brian Hodgson, who worked with Delia, as well as being the culprit of all sonic booms and pulsating wobbulations, Charles Craggs almost takes the narrators role, allowing the audience to see Deila though another pair of specs, whilst calmly holding the control of the aural element. However, it Is the performance of Jessie Coller that surprises us as she performs almost as a mime would, but evocatively expressing her displeasure in not being able to perform the same roles as the men back in the sixties, being offered only receptionist roles. She is animated, and her facial expression is bang on as we see her frankly affected by the opportunity or lack there of for women wanting to work in the field she did.
A tiny stage, my only criticism, as they certainly did what they could with the space, culminating in an informative, engaging show, yet entertaining a plethora of senses. One of those “hidden gems” at the Fringe.
Hymns for Robots, C- Aquila, Johnstone Terrace, 4:20pm, 11th – 27th August (not 13th)