Nobody does political analysis in a light-heartened way quite like Hidden Track. Their interactive games are not only intelligent, but also good fun to get stuck in to, whether as a player or simple onlooker. A considerate policy on audience participation ensures that nobody ever gets involved against their will. Before the show, we are all handed a business card that reads “No, thank you!”. It is enough to hold this up at any point to be left in peace to enjoy the show – a comfort blanket for those who dread being pulled onto the stage, but also an implicit reminder that democracy should be based on consent.
Awarded “Best New Writing” at the Greater Manchester Fringe and “Best Newcomer” at the Brighton Fringe, Standard:Elite depicts decisional power as resulting from privilege, without ever falling into propaganda. Like in a capsule society, an influential minority is allowed to rule the rest of the community. Initially, a small portion of the audience is addressed with formal tones and invited to sit on stage. A few more people can then earn a seat amongst the elite by winning a game or being nominated by another member of the caste.
When the two storytellers, Sophie MacKenzie and Hidden Track’s Artistic Director Elliot Hughes, begin to talk about Cloud Boy and Silk Girl, the elite are placed in charge of determining which direction the tale will take. A show of thumbs establishes which characters are going ahead and which are bound to succumb. Despite being a majority, the standards never get a say.
Dynamics that resound with modern politics suggest some poignant metaphors. The most adventurous characters receive only “experience and exposure” for their hard work. Wealthier communities try to embed foreign individuals by encouraging them to give up their cultural background in exchange for a better quality of life.
MacKenzie and Hughes are confident storytellers, unafraid to entrust their audience with the positive outcome of the show. Lighting up the narrative, Joe Brownbridge’s accompaniment on the accordion or the ukulele is gentle and playful. Whereas Irene Jade’s inventive adaptation of random objects into props is a triumph of creativity over a modest budget. Her choice of a curtain’s tassel tieback to represent Silk Girl is a stroke of genius.
Hidden Track’s pioneering work is visually striking, utterly entertaining and ever so compelling.
Author: Elliot Hughes
Director: Anoushka Bonwwick
Producer: Hidden Track
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/standard-elite
Booking Until: 25 August 2019