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  • Flora Gosling

Review: In Everglade Studio (Assembly George Square)

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

A recording session takes a dark turn in a dingy basement

We don’t like to admit it, but in our culture there is a certain appetite for tragedy. This can be especially true of pop culture, for example when works of films, music, or novels are banned or never released. Rumours circulate, drama is unpicked, and gossip spreads, but if we are honest reality is probably much more mundane than the speculation. But to open a performance with a documentary-style narrator musing on a recording session so terrible that the tapes were destroyed, well then you have to live up to your own fictional legend. Black Bat Production’s In Everglade Studio, written and directed by Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller, takes place in a supposedly legendary but ultimately lethal basement where a haughty Americana singer, a greedy producer, a sarcastic pianist, and a shy songwriter are trying to record a crucial, time-sensitive album.

Why is it time-sensitive you may ask? Well, it is a little hard to tell. We learn that the album must be finished or their contracts are terminated, but we never get a sense of what that album is meant to look like or how far away they are from finishing it. That technicality aside, confining some cantankerous characters in a room together is a reliable formula, especially at the Fringe, and it is very fitting for the shipping container in which the In Everglade Studio is performed. We get a great sense of being trapped in this space and trying to create art with people who are unkind and uncooperative. Of course, the real credit for this goes to Brimmer-Beller, whose script is simmering with tension and just as sharp as last year's Black Bats Production Press.

Yet as strong as the script is, some of the most tense moments in the performance take place not when they are speaking but when they are singing. Not only are the songs so well performed they could act as a concert on their own, but they build on the story by showing how Skye (played brilliantly by Alyth Ross) treats everyone around her like tools or obstacles on her way to inevitable stardom. Hannah Omisore’s character Matilda is portrayed as both, which acts as a fictional exemplar of how the music industry has historically taken advantage of black creatives and appropriated black music to advance the careers of white people. Fans of the recent Black Mirror episode “Demon 79” will find a similar seventies-set good-for-her plot twist here. For some audience members the ending, and particularly Matilda’s part in it, will feel rushed. However, I felt that Omisore handled her arc with bite and believability. It is rare to find a well-written and well-acted thriller at the Fringe that truly earns its claim to the genre, but In Everglade Studio absolutely does so. You will enter wondering what could possibly lead to a record being banned and destroyed, but by the end you understand entirely. Four stars.

Whispers from the Crowd: "It was really intense, a very committed performance. Very Fringe."

In Everyglade Studio will play at Assembly George Square until August 28th

Photo Credit: Hannah Omisore


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