The Scotsman


To The End Of The World -- C Chambers Street, Edinburgh
16/8/07 Susan Mansfield

Occasionally, you see a show on the Fringe which reminds you what the FRinge is about. Often, it’s a new show by a little-known company, a show you wouldn’t otherwise, and feel privileged to have seen. Such is To The End of the World.

It is not without its faults, but as soon as you set foot in the theatre and find yourself greeted by cast members dressed as silkworm eggs, you know you’re at a show which is out of the ordinary.

As the story weaves its way through comedy, tragedy and occasionally farce, these expressive characters in white vests and long johns are our narrators and commentators, passing the thread of it effortlessly from one to another.

Philippe, from the French village of Sur L’Eglise, falls in love with Ava. But when the mysterious Delgadino offers him the chance to travel “to the end of the world” to buy silkworm eggs, he leaves his wife behind. Will he realise the value of what he has, or throw it away on the promise of more exotic adventures?

As sometimes happens with devised theatre, the show has an excess of ideas – twins separated at birth, a mysterious Chinaman, a brothel madame who translates foreign languages, an opera singer so big he’s played by two people, not to mention caged butterflies, arms dealing and Barbie dolls.

It’s funny and strange and full of life, but the real accomplishment of director Miles Davis is to keep just enough focus on the relationship between Philippe and Ava, and to tie the complex strands together in a moving conclusion.

Young company Dumbshow have set themselves a considerable challenge – a show with a cast of 12, staged in the round, with more scene changes than anyone would care to count. But the cast accomplish it smoothly and their joy in what they’re doing is a powerful antidote to anyone grown cynical about the Fringe.