Dance & Physical Theatre review: Borges and I
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Borges and I, at the Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), review by Kelly Apter
In A Fringe Festival of hits and misses, there are very few safe bets. Even companies who have impressed before can have a bad year. But time and again, Idle Motion comes up with the goods, and I’m starting to think this might be one company where you can sit back, relax and know an hour of quality theatre is about to unfold.
Already showing everyone else how it’s done with their superb show, That Is All You Need to Know at Zoo Southside, Idle Motion has now opened a second Fringe show – a re-working of their 2009 work, Borges and I. Inspired by the late Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, the show intertwines the writer’s life story – from his childhood love of books and tigers to his degenerative eye disease and eventual blindness – with a modern-day book group.
Each character is fully realised, from the bossy group leader to the struggling incompetent who always gets it wrong (but comes good in the end). In the midst of this amusing bunch, romance starts to blossom – a beautiful coming together, which also includes that theatrical holy grail, a touching and believable sex scene.
As parallels start to be drawn between Borges’s life and a book group member, the piece becomes increasingly poignant, until you find you’re no longer laughing, but crying.
But it’s not just the dialogue and characterisation that Idle Motion gets right – it is also the masterful and inspired physical storytelling. From the moment our narrator opens her umbrella, and a shower of pages of books fall out, scattering across the stage, you know you are in for a visual treat. Projected images of tigers appear walking along shelves, books fly through the air or fall like dominos and small moments of choreographed movement present an alternative way to show emotion.
A love story, literary history lesson, comedy, tragedy and celebration of reading all in one, Borges and I proves unequivocally that it’s possible to be both quirky and accessible at the same time.
Originally appeared in The Scotsman