Summerhall, Demonstration Room
After the undisputed success of 2019’s STYX, Fringe revelation Second Body return to the Edinburgh stage with two new works. Covering the first half of the run is Invisible Mending, an emotional celebration of Yoshika Colwell’s late grandmother Ann.
This self-penned piece starts a few months before the first Covid outbreak in 2020, using Yoshi’s written journal to follow a timeline that ends in August 2021 – when the work was first presented at a skeleton Fringe festival. The reading is intertwined with the tale of three elderly women sitting under an acer tree by the beach. Those familiar with classical mythology will recognise in them the Parcae, who work the thread of life – spinning, weaving and deciding when it’s time to cut it. This reference, however, is never made clear in the play; on the contrary one of the diary entries reads “I’m writing a story about three women”– which feels like wrong appropriation. The thread that keeps the narrative together is Ann’s lifelong passion for knitting as a mean of catharsis to escape the everyday world. The piece of knitting that she didn’t manage to finish is now being completed on stage by her granddaughter.
Yoshi is obsessed with the past as much as she’s afraid of the future and is struggling to find balance within the present. She doesn’t quite know what to do with her life and finds herself at a loose end following the announcement that her grandmother doesn’t have long left to live. After Ann’s demise, she records her family paying tribute, starts writing down her thoughts and creates new music. Invisible Mending – a title that refers to the technique used to fix holes in knitted jumpers – is her scrapbook and, as such, it feels quite jumbled.
Those who have seen STYX will recognise some of Second Body’s trademarks, like snippets of recorded verbatim or incandescent light bulbs turned on and off to guide the audience throughout the performance. Max Burton with his musical instruments and sound equipment weaves a mesmerising live soundtrack as the story unfolds.
Colwell is a heart-warming artist, her voice and stage presence reminiscent of Laura Marling. I blame it being early in the run for a few hiccups and a relentless delivery that detracts from the inherent poetical character of this work. If these problems can be ironed out, this show will improve immensely.
Written by: Yoshika Colwell with Max Barton
Directed and Scored by: Max Barton
Produced by: Yoshika Colwell & Second Body
Invisible Mending plays at Summerhall, Demonstration Room until August 14, 4:45pm. Further information and bookings here.