Tucked away in its own little world of mayhem, Wild Horses, hosted by West Hill Community Centre may well be one of the strangest experiences of this year’s Fringe. If strange is to your taste then you will revel in its mania, but for those of a more conservative nature – well, those who prefer at least a hint of narrative and coherence in their theatre pieces – will find this multi-art, ultra interdisciplinary, not forgetting the so-called promenade performance, a little unsettling.
Individually, most of the components were highly admirable; the technical skill of the aerial circus performers really was a highlight. But as we were dragged around by two nearly hysterical women (which constituted the “promenade” bit of the performance) it became all the more apparent that none of these disparate elements bore any relation to each other.
As we were literally led up the garden path we were confronted with handwritten poems that there was no time to read and crafted masks with traumatised expressions. If only we had been left to wander at will, there could have been so much more to get out of the experience.
As the hurried intensity of our two promenaders continued into the building, it became increasing more difficult to discern who was the object of their critique. Was it the doctors, whose scrawled observational notes we were all handed a copy of; the Disability Living Allowance official, with his ludicrous questioning of a mental health patient; or ourselves as representing society at large? If the latter, it is quite a risky presumption of what appeared to be a very sympathetic audience.
Once bustled across the stage we entered the main space, already half filled with people, where we were to sit and view a series of short films relating to experiences of mental illness. There was something endearing about the thrown together effect of this make shift use of technical equipment and it added positively to the overall sense of dysfunction.
By far the most enjoyable aspect of the event was the live musical performance. Yet, as members of the audience slowly started to get up and join in with the dancing and more unrelated characters filled the room, I got the distinct feeling that maybe I was the only genuine audience member, even the little girl who sat so patiently on her grandmother’s knee in front of me had featured in one of the short films.
With that all said there was a strange sense of enjoyment in the feeling that you had stumbled into somewhere you didn’t belong and I couldn’t help but leave with a smile on my face. There was something quite charming about this community outreach project, once we had stopped being dragged about by the over animated ladies in red.