An Ice Thing to Say
Presented by: Vertebra Theatre
Online, 7th Mar 2022
Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus
This year’s Fringe Festival boasts no less than 20 online events, thanks to the influence of COVID-19, which gives festivalgoers an exceptional opportunity to experience local and overseas work in the comfort and safety of their own homes.
I have to admit to being lured as much by the pun in the title of An Ice Thing to Say as I was to the promise of a blend of ice installation, original music, and physical theatre exploring the human being of the Anthropocene and our impact on nature. It draws inspiration from Erich Fromm’s seminal book on the need for socioeconomic revolution To Have or to Be? and invites the audience into a multi-sensory experience of our inner and outer icy landscapes. It attempts to challenge the idea that humans are at the centre of the universe and why that view of ourselves has caused the current climate crisis.
Having started life as a stage show, An Ice Thing to Say has been translated successfully into a short film. With effective videography, editing, and lighting from Theo Prodromidis, the visual interest has been expanded from the theatre, dance, and musical elements. The central installation of four large blocks of ice and the often-discordant music (Gregory Emfietzis) create fertile ground for visual, auditory, and textural experiences of an element of nature with which the performers interact in various ways from the sensual to the violent.
Without the explanation of the premise of the production, it risks being a little esoteric. However, sections in which the principal dancer, Stella Evangelia, wears a penguin-like mask and crams fruit into her mouth speak clearly of polar melting and rabid consumerism. Her sensuous caressing of the ice blocks equally speaks of the need for kindness towards the natural environment. Spoken interludes reflect the disorder of the modern mind and the human inability to be still, listen, and let instinct reign. As a meditation on Man’s inhumanity to nature, it is absorbing, challenging, and thought-provoking.