Landscape with Skiproads

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): Summerhall (Venue 26). Review by Susan Mansfield

Pieter De Buysser has a dusty cardboard box which once belonged to Guy Debord, but has actually been handed down from Trotsky, via Jean-Luc Godard and André Breton. Given a lineage which could, in theory at least, be true (De Buysser was studying in Paris in Debord’s later years) a humble object becomes invested with meaning. Performed on a beautiful set of objects placed on wooden pedestals, this quirky one-man show weaves a narrative around physical things, and their power to create real connections between human beings and the world.

In Edinburgh as part of the Big in Belgium season, De Buysser is part writer, part clown, part philosopher, and this is an enchanting little fable about a boy called Zoltan who falls off his horse outside De Buysser’s flat one evening, and who, while looking for his lover, Francesca, manages to retrieve objects from the past which change several interconnected lives in the present.

It’s also a piece of magic realism in which a man in a black Bentley pursues his time-travelling daughter, an insurance salesman has an epiphany thanks to an encounter with Adam Smith’s glove, and a group of children are helped in their grief by Henry Ford’s rocking horse.

It is rich in philosophical overtones, from Plato to Debord – who feared that the “Society of the spectacle” would increasingly distance us from real things and real experiences. But the subject of objects takes us into economics too: manufacture becomes mechanised making shareholders rich, but leaving others out of work. Is there another way?
Wordy, surreal, occasionally puzzling, Landscape with Skiproads is as rich in ideas as a suet pudding is in saturated fat. There should always be room for this kind of beautifully written strangeness on the Fringe.

Until 24 August. Today 12:05pm.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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