Dark Matter at Greenside at Infirmary Street (Venue 236) is Vertebra Theatre’s first performance at The Fringe, and with theatre of this quality, I hope it won’t be their last.
A puppet show about an elderly astrophysicist with dementia may sound a strange combination, but Dark Matter is more than just puppetry. It uses projection and physical theatre to bring Alfie’s story to life, with four actors taking the parts of many people and things in Alfie’s life. Alfie himself is an incredibly life-like puppet, about 4’ tall, who is operated by up to three of the performers, although with such skill that you quickly forget that it isn’t Alfie himself who is moving around and talking.
Sounds or words in Alfie’s confused existence take him back to events in his earlier life, before he is brought back to the present again by the appearance of Anna, his carer. Anna tends to treat him as a child at times, although at other times they have serious discussions about what happens after you die.
Dark Matter portrays, with great feeling and dignity, the confusion, frustration and fear of a hugely intelligent man living with dementia. But it’s not all serious; there are many moments of comedy too in this excellent production.
Review by Lisa Sibbald