FRINGE REVIEW – Palmstar Poppy

*****

By Jen McGegror

This song cycle from the extremely talented Scottish composer and performer David Paul Jones is absolutely mesmerising. It tells the story of a sailor whose lover is lost at sea, prompting him to build the titular Palmstar Poppy and set sail in search of the mythical Wishsong Bay.

A few simple pieces of set transform the Barony Bar completely. As the deliciously melancholy score works its magic, it’s easy to forget that the bustle of an afternoon on Broughton Street is only yards away. Instead the bar becomes some smoky backstreet dive in a fishing town, frozen in time at about 3am.

Watching David Paul Jones perform is a delight. Rather than play directly to his audience, he turns his back and allows us to witness something deeply felt and intimate. The piano often feels as if it has a voice of its own, a partner in a duet rather than simple accompaniment.

There are some pacing issues – several songs with similar tempi and feel follow one after the other. A few songs that visit stormier or stranger waters might have balanced things out and strengthened the narrative.

Also, as satisfying as the simplicity of the show was, it felt as if Palmstar Poppy was crying out for something visual to complement it. It would lend itself to collaboration with another medium such as animation, dance or visual art as part of development into a larger-scale piece with a life beyond the Fringe. It certainly has that scope.

Palmstar Poppy 3-9 Aug, 12-16 Aug, 19-23 Aug, 26-27 Aug, 3pm (4pm) Barony Bar.

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