Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)
4 stars ****
SOMEWHERE along the path you follow, as you experience this memorable piece of audio theatre by One Step At A Time Like This of Australia, you’ll acquire a little carrier bag in which to keep the tiny notes and documents that you’ve picked up along the way. And although I wasn’t sure just how impressed I was with the whole experience, as I wandered through Edinburgh following the texted instructions on my mobile phone, and the seventeen ipod tracks (other hand, bit of a juggling act) that accompany the two-hour walk, I find myself now rifling through the bag with an odd sense of nostalgia, as if I had been on a memorable and poingant journey after all.
The One Step At A Time Like This soundtrack is an interesting piece of work, in that it is not about any specific city – it has previously been adapted to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide – but shows tremendous respect for the city in which it finds itself. In meticulous detail, the texted instructions – or notes and maps you find along the way, or arrows on the pavement – guide your steps through unfamiliar byways and back-alleys of the city, wth strange views and perspectives.
On the ipod, there is music, most of it carefully sourced from young Edinburgh bands, a soundtrack that lends an odd vividness and drama to the lives and faces of the people you pass; and there are thoughts, both original and quoted, about how we live in cities, how we encounter strangers there, how we meet and lose people, how we live on with those losses. In a back yard near the High Street, we chalk on the wall the one thing we would have wanted someone to say to us, but never heard; sudden tears pour down my face.
The soundtrack is finally a shade repetitive, a little too long, both musically and textually; the theme is a familiar one from the drama of the 1990’s. But their sheer loving attention to the fabric of the city, and the way they range freely and imaginatively through the possibilities of 21st century and traditional media, distinguishes the work of the artists who make up One Step At A Time Like This; and leaves you shaken, and a little changed.
Until 29 August, p.248