The North! The North! review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘ingenious and gruesome’
Dark story-telling is a crowded field, particularly at the Edinburgh Fringe, so it takes genuine originality to stand out. That’s something Christopher Harrison has in spades, with this staggeringly peculiar and consistently surprising hour of Northern gothic.
England has been rent in two, separating north from south, with the former now ruled over by the grotesque, Jimmy Savile-like Prince. Our hero is the Prince’s son, and may even be the chosen one, prophesied to destroy the evil ruler and repair the chasm forever.
It may all sound a little woolly, but thanks to Harrison’s uniquely strange and fly-blown style, mixing brutal grotesquery with a streak of the contemporary, it’s mesmerising. As the story whirls onwards, Harrison’s hero finds himself splitting apart, too. The quest transforms into an elusive fable for the loss of cultural identity – for the split personality of a northerner turned southern.
The animation that accompanies Harrison’s story suffers a little from the technical limitations of his venue, but it’s often gorgeously morbid. Harrison himself is a dynamic performer, spinning across the stage as he pounds his coal-black myth together until it shines like a diamond.