Standby for Tape Back-up (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

Standby for Tape Back-up

Photo: James Lyndsay

Arresting performance/video installation mash-up at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Like his fellow Aisle 16 poetry boyband-ers – Luke Wright, John Osborne and Joe Dunthorne, to name a few – Ross Sutherland's a talented guy. That's certainly evident in his Fringe show this year, Standby for Tape Backup, a mash-up of drama, comedy, performance poetry and a sort-of video installation. The video tape is the centrepiece: played on an old TV set and simultaneously projected onto the back wall of an old lecture theatre in Summerhall, Sutherland tells us how he inherited this video after his grandfather died and how its many clips echo his life.

Cue bursts of Ghostbusters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Crystal Maze and more, played and re-played largely without sound. For anyone born in the early to mid-80s, it's a roll call of formative TV and film memories, and endlessly endearing because of it. Technically, it's a triumph: Sutherland times his performance with the video scenes impressively well, slipping in and out of performance poet mode and sneaking in some emotional lines about his grandfather's death and low-points in his own life.

It's arresting stuff, but it doesn't quite gel together at the end. A meatier narrative would be a little more satisfying, but it's an intriguing work of live art from an interesting performer – and one that will inspire you to watch scenes from Ghostbusters in slow-motion as soon as you get home.

Summerhall, 560 1581, until 24 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).

Standby for Tape Back-Up

  • 3 stars

Ross Sutherland with Show And Tell ‘Two years ago, I found a videotape in my loft. On it: one and a half films, one quiz show and two sitcoms. Somehow it became the story of my life’. Ross Sutherland attempts a daring experiment in synchronicity. Using nothing but found-footage from one of his granddad’s old videotapes…