Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Phil Aughey.
The allure of the Edinburgh Fringe is such that no matter where in the world the theatre company or performer is based, the call of the Scottish lowlands and gentility of Edinburgh is never too far away. Especially when it offers a perspective of a composer of such repute as Chopin but told with great nerve to highlight his time in the country before his early passing from Tuberculosis, such is the effects of Chopin’s Last Stand.
Australian Phil Aughey’s one man performance at Zoo on behalf of Anvil Creek Theatre is one that might not immediately spring to mind as being a progressive piece in which the audiences of the Fringe might truly want to be immersed in. However, under the soft spotlight gaze afforded to all performing at the venue during the run, Phil Aughey’s reading of the man whose slow descent into a world that he did not truly enjoy as he roamed in the dank air of Scotland after his relationship with female novelist George Sand failed is one that sits very much in the reflective and the wonderfully brooding category of this year’s month long event.
The single piano on stage representing arguably the singular thoughts possessing Chopin as the disease and his broken heart began to be ravaged by the passing of his time on Earth and the heavy judgements he finds he harbours as the country of his birth, Poland, gets invaded time and time again as its prime position nestled between superpower after European superpower takes more out of him than he thought possible. It is an analogy that might bypass some as the thought of hearing clear and concise arrangements delivered by a full orchestra are far removed from those of a composer wrestling with the final days of his life and that once more of his country.
For Phil Aughey this perhaps is a trip and a production of a lifetime and one that he captures with great sincerity; a homage to a great man as he enters the last days of his productive and art filled life, but one filled with images he cannot displace.
Ian D. Hall