Buzz is an adaptation of a Norwegian novel set in the Faroe Islands, and is presented by a Belgian company, another example of the opportunities offered by the Edinburgh Fringe for catching up on European theatre. It is a high-tech production using video, recorded sound and music, even real rain and live music to accompany the text.
The sole actor is Charlotte Vandermeersch, also responsible for editing Johan Harstad’s text. Her's is a captivating performance, delivered in English and deftly subtitled Faroese accents where necessary, as she plays all the parts. Beginning the piece laid on the floor with the rain soaking her, she tells the story of a group of young people, one of whom is fixated on Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon.
Vandermeersch is accompanied by musician Karen Willems who squats on the floor surrounded by instruments which she plays in conventional and less conventional ways, getting interesting sounds from the point of a drumstick on a cymbal or by striking the strings of an electric guitar. At times, indeed, it can be difficult to focus on the actor, so fascinating is it to see how the sound is being produced; and at some points text and music seem to be more in opposition to each other than complementary, even when this might not have been intended.
It’s a puzzling piece at times and it’s not always easy to follow the story of Matthias and Helle and their friends, and to know which character is being talked about, but it is still an impressive performance from an actor who can hold the attention of her audience for 70 minutes. Her performance is deftly supported by the technical team needed to bring together all the elements of this example of Flemish multi-media theatre.