Bortle 8

Following on from last year’s Drunk Lion, Chris Davis’ Bortle 8 is nothing if not strange. Driven by a desire to reach Bortle 8 – complete darkness – in a world increasingly clouded by light pollution, the show follows Chris on a journey that takes the audience from California, to outer space, then swiftly down to the bottom of the ocean. Accompanied by the astronomer Bortle, the journey will force Chris to contemplate his relationships with others, and his own existence.

A series of constant and ever-evolving motions help to give the piece a concrete sense of place - watching Davis craft a scene can make anything feel tangible.

The show’s biggest draw is Davis himself, with a strong control over comedic timing and physicality. Serving as both writer and performer, Davis is an engaging stage presence, creating entirely different characters through a slight shift in the angle of his head. And without even a set – a series of constant and ever-evolving motions help to give the piece a concrete sense of place. From the weightlessness of space, to the rush of falling from the skies, all of his actions help to craft the world around him. An imagination boat may sound like a ridiculous concept, but watching Davis craft a scene can make anything feel tangible.

This said, the show has script issues. Although there are moments that come close to being profound, they are drowned out by imagery that is regularly over-extended. This is most notable in a final speech that resembles a stream of consciousness. While initially the language is powerful, it soon stops being overwhelming, and just becomes mundane. Similarly, the use of audience participation is regularly jarring, tearing us away from the world that Davis is creating.

Bortle 8 is the very essence of a fringe show, daring to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. While at times this means that the show can become a little too rough around the edges, it may well be a diamond in the rough.

Reviews by Alexander Gillespie

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Performances

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The Blurb

From the creator of last year's hit Drunk Lion, ***** (TVBomb.co.uk), ‘a potent success’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com), comes Bortle 8, a search for darkness in an age of artificial light. Bortle 8 goes from the depths of the ocean to the celestial sky in the hopes of finding the last untouched place on Earth. ‘Brilliant!’ (Phindie.com). 'Fascinating' (Ithaca Fringe).