Breathless - A Dramatic Cantata

Sitting with an audience of six, I wasn’t exactly hopeful about the one-man meltdown I was about to witness. I was right not to be overly excited about this show, which was indeed ‘intriguing’, as advertised, but not in an entirely positive way. To be honest, I felt far more ‘poked’ than ‘provoked.’

Despite how uncomfortable I felt for the entirety of this show, credit has to be given to performer and creator Behsat Ahmet for his passion and energy as well as an extremely innovative idea depicting the mental breakdown within a singer. He sweeps into the tiny space wearing an unnecessarily long, black Dracula-esque cloak, with his torso covered in black leather belts. The initial image was slightly terrifying but, as he took to the stage, his scary demeanour broke down song by song as he guided us through the emotional journey of a failing singer.

I was actually a big fan of the concept of the piece but became increasingly frustrated with this performance. The emotional breakdown of stage performers is a fascinating subject and one with huge mileage, especially at the Fringe however, the way that Ahmet chose to execute it left my senses continually harassed and desperately looking for the nearest exit. It was hard to tell whether he was trying to be artistically ironic with the music selection or whether his song choices were just ill-chosen and bordering on cringe-worthy. From sampling R.E.M’s ‘Losing My Religion’ in an awkward piano-bashing rendition to more classical well-known pieces by Purcell, some could say he showed great variety, whereas for me, it was a bizarre mixture of badly fitting puzzle pieces.

Despite this, there really were moments of beautiful vulnerability demonstrated by Ahmet and even the odd moment of comedy where I let out a hesitant snicker. He started to grow on me and make me smile but these moments were quickly lost by odd artistic choices, like blinding the whole audience with an overly powerful strobe light to the point I felt physically sick. Sadly, one of the only joys I found in this performance were the similarities between Ahmet’s character, Ferdi, and the flamboyant teacher Mr G. from the spoof series ‘Summer Heights High.’ My comparison was confirmed when, during the painful strobe light show, Ahmet performed an impressively active movement routine completely immersed in his black cloak, for what seemed like an eternity.

This show is worth a watch just for the sheer ‘what the hell is going on’ factor but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want a comfortable evening’s viewing. The concept is strong and, at times, is demonstrated beautifully with real pain and anguish but by the end of the mere forty minutes, I found myself looking at my shoes and struggling for air.

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The Blurb

A dramatic portrayal chronicling the emotional meltdown of a singer during a dress rehearsal of a concert recital. Breathless will provoke, challenge and tease, so jump aboard the rollercoaster life that is pure Ferdi.

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