A Waste Land

“It’s time to take your pill,” says the director, before handing me a tiny white tablet that she assures me is made of sugar, while clearing chairs to create a dancefloor. Maybe it was a placebo effect of the pill, but A Waste Land, billed as an “electronic dance opera-odyssey through T. S. Eliot’s iconic poem” became one of the most ludicrous half hours of my life.

Without a doubt one of the weirdest shows you will see at Fringe this year.

A Waste Land follows a genderqueer Tiresias through Donald Trump’s America but the poem, performed by Brooklyn’s self-proclaimed Kween of Electronic Dance Opera, Eri Borlaug, was completely drowned out by the relentless sound of electronica and irritatingly, none of the stunning prose from the iconic piece of literature was allowed to shine - a disservice to the care and consideration that Eliot put into this work, regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th Century. Such a shame because I could see the fusion of electronic music with T. S. Eliot having so much potential.

During the course of the show, Eri de-robed a number of times in order to embody different characters. But perhaps the one, and plainly unnecessary, character was that of a butt-naked man pleasuring himself — a moment that was greeted with both shock and sniggers. No direct parallels were made to the current Donald Trump era aside from a brief montage of the US president’s unphotogenic face — disappointing, as I was looking forward to a poignant moment in light of the current political climate. Strobe lights, smoke and multimedia installation montages flooded the room, all executed by the same director who handed me the anonymous pill, but not a single person felt compelled to stand up and dance. Moreover, if a rave was the aim of the game, then the basement of Moriarty’s wouldn’t be top of the list.

Eccentricity is a word that can be used to describe Fringe — one of the only cultural festivals where madness can teeter on genius but unfortunately this was not one of those occasions.That being said, I did not hate it. It goes so far past the line of terrible, that it almost becomes numbing. Without a doubt one of the weirdest shows you will see at Fringe this year. 

Reviews by Sophia Charalambous

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The Blurb

An electronic dance opera-odyssey through TS Eliot's iconic poem: part rave, part multimedia installation, this dark, dystopian clusterf*ck follows genderqueer Tiresias on a quest through the seediest hovels and holes in Trump's 'Murica. Devised and performed by internationally unrenowned power-bottom Eri Borlaug (Brooklyn's self-proclaimed Kween of Electronic Dance Opera), expect to dance as you enter the glam/grunge underworld of 'Murica in a 50-minute party/theatrical event. World Premiere.