Despite its morning time slot, Toporland
makes little concession to its audience. Essentially a live action version of those difficult 1970s’ cartoons from the Eastern Bloc, it provides one of the most confusing forty minutes available on the Fringe. While it has the virtue of brevity, it lacks clarity and would appeal only to the most determined dada enthusiast.
Inspired by Polish surrealist Roland Topor and Bach, the performance consists of the gradual uncoiling of a large roll of cardboard. Various scenes have been painted onto the cardboard, while cardboard characters are moved around or suspended above the screen. The cardboard threatens to topple over- perhaps this is deliberate- and the rudiments of a narrative might be emerging. Nothing is made explicit and, apart from some unnecessary business at the start, there is no real attempt to communicate either humour or pathos. In the corner, a double bass exhausts its expressiveness, settling the atmosphere into a dour depression. Toporland
is infected by humorlessness and undermined by the lack of contact between the performers and the audience. The illustrations are competent and suggestive, but are too static to support a performance. For the vast majority who are unfamiliar with Topor, the show fails to introduce his work or any significant themes: meaning disappears within the first minutes and interest follows soon afterwards. Uncompromising and opaque, Toporland
will struggle to find an audience.