Assembly @ Dance Base
I have a morbid fascination with the response that performing artists had to the merciless death toll caused by the Covid pandemic. At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, for instance, there’s been a remarkable incidence of shows that explore the concept of death from various different angles. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen prominent theatre works on this topic, including Fringe First winners Funeral and Ben Target: LORENZO, as well as the provocative YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
Within the same trend, dancer, choreographer and storyteller Solène Weinachter involves her audiences in a joyous rendition of her own funeral, devised exactly as she’d like it to be. Following the haphazard ceremony after the passing of her Uncle Bob, Solène realised that she wanted her final goodbye to be as boisterous as her life is and a true reflection of her personality. Hence the decision to plan it beforehand and rehearse it in front of her audience. Meanwhile, we are also all invited to do the same, establishing what we’d love or loathe at our own service.
It is a bizarrely uplifting exercise that gives us an opportunity to reflect about the people closest to us, how grief would affect them and vice versa. It encourages us to look at loss in a positive way and embrace it as a fact of life that we can’t escape. Likewise, it urges us to celebrate the time we get to spend with our loved ones and the memories we build with them.
Elements of storytelling are intertwined with improvised dance in a mixed bag of performance art which is much more polished in the first half than the concluding section. The day I attend there is also a BSL interpreter. She is so well-integrated with the rest of the show as to initially appear to be one of its original features. Only later do I realise that there are only two BSL dates in the whole run, which is a bit of shame as they really elevate the whole experience.
The enthralling notes of “Ginette” by Têtes Raides is the icing on the cake of an inescapably emotional (and madcap) finale. In it, a jaunty accordion and Solène’s irresistible glee transport us all to her native France in a contagious ode to life.
Created and Produced by: Solène Weinachter
AFTER ALL played as part of EdFringe 2023.