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Landscape (1989) review at Zoo Playground, Edinburgh – ‘meditative piece with mushrooms’

Clara Potter-Sweet in Landscape (1989) at Zoo Playground, Edinburgh

Some fringe shows are battering rams. They thunder around in gumboots, stamping their feet. Others are more delicate, lace-like and trusting. Emergency Chorus’ meditative new show is a good example of the latter.

The New Diorama Graduate Emerging Companies’ second piece could accurately be subtitled ‘The Show With the Mushrooms’. One of the key images is of the Humongous Fungus, the name given to the vast colony of mushrooms in Oregon, the largest living organism on earth.

Citing Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 essay The End of History and referencing the fact that the impact of climate change is gradual, an incremental process rather than a sudden cataclysm, slowness is built into the show.

Co-creators Ben Kulvichit and Clara Potter-Sweet perform a series of repetitive actions. They place a plate of mushrooms in a microwave and watch them slowly rotate for more than seven minutes. They cook and eat a pan of mushrooms on a camp stove under an apocalyptic orange sun (the show is vividly lit by Ciara Shrager). They discuss Czech composer Václav Hálek, who makes mushroom-inspired music.

While Landscape (1989) as a whole can feel opaque and intentionally tedious, and not quite as striking as the company’s earlier piece, Celebration, the show is entrancing in its own quiet way.

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Mushrooms feature prominently in a delicate, meditative piece about climate change