Alien Lullabies invites a wonderfully diverse cross-section of Fringe society, and the theatre is full to the brim. Well-meaning but poor festival goers clamouring after the concessions, bearded men in tie-dye trousers, and ‘types’ with accents like silk (may come with moleskin attached) looking out for the most eccentric piece they can tell their friends about, because they’re just that experimental.
Like the odd montage of people assembled in the room, Alien Lullabies hasn’t quite found its venue. Somehow one of Edinburgh’s old lecture theatres doesn’t quite make the cut; Alien Lullabies becomes an I-am-not-sure-I-understand-what-is-currently-happening piece that is thoroughly stimulating in that it is so entirely bizarre. Perhaps the issue arises when trying to mentally categorise it: is it a music gig, or animation plus a live soundtrack? No one, not even the linguistic gymnast who came up with the phrase “multimedia artwork experiment,” knows.
The animation is undeniably brilliant; ethereal spindly insects play musical instruments and it moves flawlessly from fluorescent pools of light to underwater treasures. It’s a hybrid reality of alien dolls and rabbits trying to catch the last train. Clearly made with the music in mind, Alien Lullabies is a sincere collaboration between animator and artist. At one point, the scene portrays a harrowing rollercoaster as Soe Paing screams into the microphone, breaking the audience from their trance. It’s a collaboration dripping with elegance.
Soe Paing has an undeniable stage presence. Flouncing off the stage for intervals, she controls her audience in a way that is authoritative but not bossy. The music is unique, the atmosphere husky and the animation imaginative. You cannot fault Soe Paing on her genuine and original take on music. Alien Lullabies hasn’t quite found its place, but perhaps that’s its charm. On the one hand it’s a petri-dish of brilliant creativity, on the other it could be an hour of the world’s most psychedelic biology class: nice, but you don’t quite understand what’s going on, and you’d rather be on your lunch break.
Alien Lullabies plays at Summerhall from August 19 -23, as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.