“Have you ever been to gig theatre?” front man Joe Matty asks as he moves around the audience as we are still taking our seats. For those new to gig theatre, it can be a mixed affair, when it is done badly it can be the most excruciating experience, but when it works, boy does it work. And Fire Our Shows Have Made clearly works. Because this is an hour that flies by before your eyes.
On stage, the remaining three cast members, Lucy Chamberlain, Luke Mott and Mollie Tucker mill around, laugh, wave at family in the audience and fill the room with the beats that are going to dominate for the next hour, generating an energy that is not going to give up until the final words are spoken. Much like a gig, getting the audience warmed up is all part of the performance.
Joe Matty and Lucy Chamberlain are young siblings Jay and Sasha. Their mother has recently passed away and so they’re forced to move in with their dad. It’s not an easy transition and the young pair decide to run away. Except they run away not just into the physical world of the streets of London, but more so, into their own fantasy world, made up of the bedtime stories their mum told them. Included in that fantasy is Excalibur, their trusty sword, except in real life, it’s a knife, a knife that can only lead to trouble. The story is gritty and well-paced, it’s “a chain of events that he hadn’t meant to set off” leading us through the siblings ordeal as they fight to survive the dark streets of London, the tension built up and up, the audience drawn in and praying for their safe return to their father.
Musically there is much to admire. Hip hop dominates as Matty tells their story and along with Chamberlain use every inch of the stage to perform their parts, whilst behind them Mott and Tucker build the music around them as well as contributing with a few additional characters to the story, Moss especially working well as the shopkeeper/ goblin. It’s a sound that is clear and crisp for the most part, any sound issues easily forgiven in such a confined space and with so little time to set up.
But what makes this stand out is in fact the moments the pace and harshness of the story softens, when Chamberlain takes over, being the eight-year-old girl Sasha, her innocence and fear showing, her singing a total contrast to Matty’s spoken words. And those moments when she is accompanied by Mollie Tucker on guitar and harmonies are moments of reflection and beauty, and a space for the audience to breathe again and recover briefly before it all kicks off again.
Fire Our Shoes Have Made is a great piece of gig theatre, an hour of energy and strong storytelling from four artists at the start of their careers, but who show the promise that this won’t be the end.
Written by: Oscar Sadler
Music composed by: Mollie Tucker
Directed by: Matt Owen
Produced by: Kate Chalmers and Niall McDaid, Pound of Flesh
Booking link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fires-our-shoes-have-made
Booking until: 26 August 2019