An interdisciplinary musical spectacle, Middle Child’s Weekend Rockstars’ layers of framing show it to be a unique production at the Fringe. The show, featuring a cast of actor-musicians, presents itself as a gig, but is quickly exposed to be a play. Marc Graham is likeable as protagonist and narrator Terry, who finds liberation as he struggles to keep his life under control. Graham’s narration is poetic, though at times its digressions become sluggish.
Weekend Rockstars’ use of audiovisual effects to relay narrative is genius. Film, screened behind the cast, shows Terry’s experiences from various perspectives. Sometimes we’re aligned with the protagonist, experiencing the story through his eyes. At others, a supporting character will take over, or we’ll float externally from the action as observers to the scene. A tangible, variable distance between the audience and the world of the play is created in this respect. Overall, the narrative is fragmented into musical elements and storytelling in addition to the use of film. There’s an intensity to the production that comes from its creating an atmosphere for its audience. Whilst at times Weekend Rockstars can be a sensory overload, its approach to storytelling is tantalising.
James Frewer’s music complements the tone of the production, providing a soundscape for the show’s narrative, which takes an episodic structure. A different musical line illustrates each episode, highlighting the motion of the play with an original song. Luke Barnes’ lyrics don’t match the grit of Frewer’s composition though they do give an indication into Terry’s escapist mindset. The only escape from the mundane is music, becoming a “weekend rockstar”. As Weekend Rockstars progresses, it builds intensity until Terry, life teetering on the brink of collapse, plunges into the final song. The volume increases, polyphonic musical strands drowning out the ruin that has dominated Terry’s week, until the lyricism of his narration merges with the music and the play becomes a gig again.
Weekend Rockstars is playing at Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61) until 30 August (no performance on 17) as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.