As someone who lives at the opposite end of the country to Edinburgh Fringe, I always look at the festival with envy wishing I were there. This year, however, we can watch a whole host of fringe theatre from the comfort of our homes.
13 Fruitcakes is the story of Orlando, a mysterious drag queen, who inspires people to start fighting against oppression after he finds 11 members of the LGBTQ+ community trying to escape a bar being closed by the police. To do this, he depicts 13 noteworthy stories of historical gay figures and the historical impact that they have had on the world and the LGBTQ+ community.
13 Fruitcakes is directed and written by Byungkoo Ahn and features the Singing Actors Repertory from South Korea. As the name suggests, the production features 13 musical vignettes, each with their own set of original songs that are composed by Gihieh Lee and have an intriguing edition of electronic music from the Los Angeles Laptop Collective. This addition is something that I am not one-hundred percent sure works in some cases, but is great at portraying the sirens in the Prologue.
Each vignette covers a different influential LGBTQ+ figure, most of which you will have heard of and include: Gertrude Stein, Hans Christian Andersen, Da Vinci, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alan Turing, Tchaikovsky and Virginia Wolf. The production comprises a mixture of singing from the fantastic Korean singers which feels very operatic in style, as well as dance, movement and mime.
It is fascinating to learn more about these historical figures and I really enjoy how whilst this feels like a lesson in those that came before, it also is highly entertaining. I also think the lyrics, which are written by Queer poets such as Lorca, Wilde, and Whitman, are a great inclusion and really add to the atmosphere alongside the addition of multimedia on a screen. I particularly enjoy how it helps to set the scene of each piece, with a backstory of each person set up as though we are reading through a history book.
Of the 13 Vignettes, my three favourites have to be Hans Christen Anderson, Da Vinci and Gertrude Stein, all of which pair brilliantly with the music, singing, atmosphere and movement.
Whist I do enjoy this production, I feel as though some of the stories could be much shorter as my concentration at times does start to wander. However, I am always quickly drawn back in by the opulent costumes and the abundance of on-screen action.
A production different from anything I have ever seen before, I would recommend seeing 13 Fruitcakes if you want to expose yourself to a multimedia extravaganza that will intrigue all your senses.
13 Fruitcakes is playing Edinburgh Fringe Online until 30th August 2021. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.