Next Door

Troels Hagen Findsen, Marc Gassot and Katrina Bugaj

Out of Balanz

Underbelly Cowgate

From 01 August 2013 to 25 August 2013

Rating: ****

Review by Liam Blain

A heart-warming tale of connection, childhood and the bonds that bind us, Next Door at the Underbelly is a feel good show that leaves you smiling from ear to ear, be it from the strong alcoholic shot at the end of the show or the pure joy gained from knowing you’ve introduced yourself to at least half of the people in the auditorium.

Out of Balanz has created an entertaining and thought-provoking production that makes you think about the people around you and how they have contributed to making you who you are. It all starts with the death of Ivan’s next door neighbour. This sparks a sudden torrent of memories, morals and madness all narrated through the dry-humoured and kind-hearted Ivan Hansen. His audience inclusion and habit of stating the obvious make him a loveable character that you become more and more inspired by as the play continues.

His sidekick Pekka Räikkönen, although silent throughout, adds the comic element with mind boggling mime and characterisations that will have you shrieking with laughter. He plays many different characters from an elderly gentleman to a young boy and each have their own individual, relatable identity.

The pair also create some of the best physical theatre and mime to be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, including a bike race sequence that has to be seen to be believed. Räikkönen plays two young boys both racing against each other and Ivan, yet you are able to follow the competition as if every competitor was represented.

It does feel at times that parts of the story are slightly unnecessary and only inserted into the narration so as to add the physical theatre element, but it is carried out to an impeccable standard. Each sound and action match up as if the noise is being created by the actor meaning the audience is able to distinguish without any difficulty at all where the characters are and what they are doing in each situation, all of them as diverse as the next, from a fishing trip to simply scaling a wall.

Every element of this show has evidently been thought through at length, from the simplistic set and props (including a Lego map of a kitchen and a mini globe) to the dramatic yet non-intrusive lighting design. Out of Balanz really has excelled itself with this excellent production making Next Door a must see for all Fringe Theatregoers looking for a feel-good evening show.

Next Door runs until 25 August at the Big Belly, Underbelly Cowgate´╗┐