Pathetic Fallacy, at heart, has a Unique Selling Point—the show’s creator, Anita Rochon, isn’t actually in Edinburgh. She’s decided to reduce her carbon-footprint by not flying across from Canada to Edinburgh for the duration of the Fringe, instead relying on a locally-based performer – a different one every performance – to be “Anita” in her place. On the day of this review, it was the delightfully bemused Welsh actor and director Gareth John Bale.
It’s clear that part of the fun for the audience is that the guest “Anita” has no idea of what is coming either.
Dressed in similar striped top to the Anita we saw on screen, Bale is stood in front of a green screen so that he can, in turn, be added to a set of pre-recorded visuals—following instructions displayed on a 'for his eyes only' monitor in real time. It’s certainly ambitious—there’s at least one moment when the 'main' screen went blank for a second or two, underscoring the bandwidth this whole exercise must use, but it’s clear that part of the fun for the audience is that the guest 'Anita' has no idea of what is coming either.
This must surely be among the most blatantly 'educational' shows on the Fringe this year: while I already knew the meaning of Pathetic Fallacy (the attribution of human emotions to non-human objects or phenomena, like the weather), I hadn’t been aware of its original attribution, and I certainly left the show knowing far more about the naming of major storms than I did going in. This is fine in itself; all the same, there does feel, on occasions, an imbalance in favour of the pre-recorded and prepared—leaving pretend 'Anita' doing little more than trying to keep up.
Technically impressive (especially when pre-recorded Anita was green-screened next to Bale on an aircraft and later in a cafe, talking about their lives), Rochon has developed a visually impressive multi-media experience exploring art, culture and our changing perspective on climate change. When she calls 'Anita' to see how the show went, it’s a timely reminder for us all to consider how we reconcile damage done to the planet simply by being here?