EDISON (Static Assembly): Edinburgh Fringe 2017

What Fringe Festival? The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Phindie writer Kathryn Osenlund visited Scotland to see some shows from the home of Fringe.

Nikola Tesla, designed historical photoThe “get Edison” and Tesla-centric agenda on display in this show isn’t fair to Edison or to Tesla either. Edison was practical. He ran multiple experiments. Not highly educated he was a plodder and a tinkerer. Modern in his day, he was an innovator. Tesla was a genius. Ideas came to him fully formed. Educated, he was a futurist, a visionary, a dreamer, in fact… a whacko.

[This Fringe show is about DC current and AC current. It is provocative. I might not go so far as to say it demonizies Edison, but it seems to claim that Tesla descended into a tailspin because Edison reneged on an offer. This is revisionist history. Edison didn’t want Tesla’s AC invention. It is not known for sure if Tesla was actually offered $50K for a dynamo he wanted to make that Edison wasn’t really interested in. There are two sides to that. In any case, Edison offered Tesla a raise of $10 a day, a king’s ransom in those days. Tesla refused it. Edison didn’t steal Tesla’s work on AC current, and in fact was not interested in it. He found it dangerous. Years later the Edison Company would acquire AC power through its subsidiaries and mergers with their competitors (mergers that Edison himself didn’t want.) Tesla died destitute because he squandered the million dollars he got from Westinghouse for his AC current, and he lost his wealthy backer, J.P.Morgan who had shelled out a lot of money for Tesla’s failed ideas. ]

There is a very clever part in the show, where the talented cast physically demonstrates alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). However, there are also less interesting set-piece scientific speeches and rather confusing character changes. With piles of gold shredded mylar as set design and a makeshift projection screen, the show comes off as a kind of amateur sorority production. That’s OK. This is the Fringe.

Writer: Joshua Logan Walker. Director: Sandy d’Oria

[ZOO Southside,  Nicholson St, Edinburgh, August 2017, media@edfringe.com ]

 

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About the author

Kathryn Osenlund, theater and film junkie, is a former National Critics Institute fellow, NEA fellow in Arts Journalism, and member of the American Theater Critics Assn Steinberg and Osborn playwriting awards committee. A Barrymore Award nominator and professor emeritus in communications and theater, Kathryn also writes for NY-based CurtainUp.com. On twitter @theatrendorphin.