Always the fastest, always the cleverest, always the strongest. Two young women grow up in rivalry, becoming each other’s shadows and cannot let go.
The immersive performance Basecamp invites its audience to listen to only one perspective of a story about pride, weakness and guilt. In two different tents, the lives of this pair of female climbers takes shape, then they merge and compete with each other. Out of sight, their stories are intertwined, uncontrollably dominated by the other. Their rivalry blurs the line between truth and deceit, while unmasking a deeper connection. However, this is more than they are willing to admit, yet.
The award-winning Fever Dream Theatre company returns to the Fringe with their new production after their sell-out hit Wrecked in 2016. It is written and directed by Jonathon Carr and produced by Alex Brown. We experience the personal journey of Climber 1, performed by Shian Denovan. Our loved-ones and companions, however, followed Colette Eaton as Climber 2 in the adjacent tent.
In the beginning, Denovan and Eaton greet us in the garden of the C South venue, which represents the base camp of their next climbing challenge. We are their potential sponsors to fund their climb up Tiger Hill in India. The bubbly Eaton tries to lighten the mood, whereas Denovan is merely provocative and sarcastic. In her tent – her temporary home – Denovan allows us to come closer and puts her self-protective mask aside. She tells us about how both women grew into the role of the two competitive ‘monkeys’, and how this label has shaped their interactions and their careers. Only their beloved mentor and friend Esme has been able to bring them back together. This is a reminder of a connection which has been cut completely after a tragic incident on one of their risky climbing trips.
By only presenting one subjective part of their shared story, the audience are unable to uncover an accurate version of events. Fever Dream Theatre challenges us by deliberately reducing the picture to one perspective, thus questioning the existence of one true account. What starts as a banal fight about a mountain climb in Scotland moves on to an existential debate brimming with blame and guilt. We stay in one tent, but our eyes and ears are filled with contradicting stories.
Denovan’s storytelling is convincing and genuine with touching moments. However, the label of rivalry not only weakens the women’s complex connection, but also their acting performance. As I can only refer mostly to Denovan’s performance, she occasionally seems stuck within her jealousy and anger towards Eaton. Furthermore, their encounters with audience members sometimes appear too staged. The shift between promoting the self in front of funders and opening up to share the personal story needs to be investigated deeper. Nevertheless, the story, characters, and performers offer great potential.
Basecamp is playing at C South at 13:45, 15:00 and 16:15 until the 27th of August. For more information and tickets, see here.
Photo Credit: Jonathon Carr