Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: On Track, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
In A suit and tie, on a treadmill, running, Belgium-born writer and performer Kristien de Proost tells us she is “loose-limbed and solidly built”. She also points out other, less flattering things about herself. She has awful teeth, there are wrinkles on her forehead, her thighs are big and her legs are short.
Taking place in what looks like a doctor’s surgery, she remains on the treadmill for 75 minutes, giving a refreshingly objective appraisal of both her physical appearance and her personality virtues and flaws.
There are some striking images: she has as many sweat glands as there are “inhabitants of the media”, as many brain cells as there are stars in the Milky Way. An English version of her original Dutch piece, Toestand (meaning “State”), it’s theatrical self-portrait, but a bravely honest one. In describing her imperfections, de Proost demands that we also look at and accept them.
While her monologue sometimes borders on stream of consciousness, in a world where we’re encouraged to aspire to be better, it’s liberating to listen to someone who’s perfectly at ease with pointing out everything she’s not.
Behind de Proost a man watches on, bored, fiddling with dials, handing over props and, occasionally, upping the speed of the treadmill. As she wields a chainsaw and lists everything she hates, he chips in with subjects she finds less easy to dismiss, playfully undermining the reductive nature of summing up a person, their life and attitudes in just over an hour.
Musical interludes, in which de Proost dances clown-like in items of fancy dress, before ending up naked, further poke fun at the idea she and her body should be taken at all seriously – something that stops what could have been a very indulgent and self-absorbed piece of theatre from ever feeling like this.
Summerhall (Venue 26) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 13 August 2015
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