The Pit Ponies' Penultimate Life Drawing Class
UndrGround Bird / Rupert Smith
Paradise in The Vault
There is no truer form of Fringe theatre than the obscure experimental piece and, true to form, Rupert Smith's spoken word performance straddles the line between orated poetry and avant-garde storytelling.
The story of the titular Pit Pony, obsessed with vanishing points and drawing eyes and animals as they descend into a metaphorical pit, merges a historical situation with a wider dirge about the rape of the land and the heavy cost of wanton and disinterested consumption, all encapsulated within vignettes told in the quarter-blink of a horse's inner-eyelid.
Indeed, the initially confusing stage lighting's crashes into darkness become almost comforting as each signifies a change of pace, or situation, as Smith's anthropomorphic equine spirit tells strange and impossible tales, from allegorical moments, to thrumming depiction of the heft and strain of pulling tons of the "black bran" from the ground and up the lifts to the rarely seen above.
All accompanied by a thunderous and impressive bout of digeridoo playing from Robert Brice, who sits placidly at the back of stage, intoning the rolling reports of doom and the echoing crashes that accompany the story. Indeed, the atmosphere is aided further by the clattering and heavy footsteps of the show above, which lends a lucky boon to the audience by truly impressing upon them the sensation of being entombed in a warren of well-trodden tunnels.
It's a truly staggering creation and a mesmerising piece of theatre. However it may prove simply too impenetrable to some, as the complexity of some of the allusions and the absurdities thrown about may in turn baffle some audience members. This critic however, was more than impressed.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan