- Eddie Harrison
- 19 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Chris Davis presents an alternative look at the art of fringe performance
Jaded with the Fringe? Tired of the same old comics, gauche student productions, the usual publicly funded tent-poles? Chris Davis is here to shake all that up. Why should anyone assume that the more money a show costs, the better it is? Pretty much all the production value of Davis's show The Presented is carried in the same fading backpack he's brought to the Edinburgh Fringe for the last ten years.
'I'm holding a space for Geoff Sobelle' announces Davis as his show begins. 'Of course, you're important to me, but it's just that he's more important than you …' Sobelle's expansive production Home, presented at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2018, is name-checked specifically, but it's the cultural assumptions we have about theatre, and art generally, that Davis is targeting. He describes his own agonising experiences at a Fringe brunch for performers and producers, networking opportunities that slip away from him and leave him serving popcorn in a movie theatre to fund his theatrical ventures.
Reviews of Chris Davis's shows mention the great raconteur Spalding Gray; that's high praise indeed, because those who knew Gray will remember him as a stage-presence of the highest order. But the comparisons are deserved; Davis is a festival specialist, and without anything in the way of props or lighting changes, he makes his show vibrant and fun; his discussion of how he deals with rejection letters is particularly amusing, as are his pithy interactions with Adah Isaacs Menken, a 19th century actress, once the most recognised in the world.
The Presented is also a dance piece, with Davis throwing some shapes to an electronic groove; this dance is shortened each time it's performed. While offering a deliberately insubstantial quality, Davis's show an invigorating alternative to the usual fare, based as it is on the kind of innovative spirit that the Fringe was originally created to showcase.
Laughing Horse @ The Place, until 25 Aug, 1.45pm, free.