REVIEW: Wave Form, Aria Scarlett, Paris Fringe Festival, 2020 ★★★☆☆

Moving any type of theatre to online live streaming has its challenges, as I’m sure the performers, organisers and viewers of Paris Fringe have recognised. Theatre as a medium has the luxury to ask its patrons to suspend their beliefs at the door. It can create a fully immersive feeling that is often missing from watching through a 13-inch laptop screen. When watching Aria Scarlett’s Wave Form – an experimental opera musical performed on stilts – I wish I were sat front row in a theatre watching Aria majestically tower over me. I am sure Scarlett wished that were the case too, along with all the performers at Paris Fringe 2020. Nevertheless, the show, which was delivered in the form of a pre-recorded video set in a park, still held a mesmerising and almost hypnotic quality.

At first, I was taken in by Scarlett’s presence, even through the screen you can recognise the sheer height the stilts give her, the surrounding fences and landscaping looked dwarfed in comparison. Her costuming and makeup worked to give her an ethereal image, her dress was long and flowy coloured in an ombré of white to lilac to pink. Her makeup was beautiful and complimented her dress and performance. In my opinion, both the costume and makeup set the tone for the performance, it is very easy to think about stilts in a circus-y, loud, and comic way, which was partly my expectations going in, but Scarlett’s figure suggested a more gentle and emotive show.

The show itself featured Scarlett singing in beautiful operatic tones supported by an almost electronic beat whilst she walked around the park with effortless grace. The combination of the two kinds of music was hypnotising, the beat was repetitive but not annoying and its reiteration allowed for Scarlett’s voice to be the main star. Scarlett has a brilliant voice which swelled and contracted with her movements, the whole performance really did hold the essence of the wave.

Due to the mesmerising nature of the show, I believe it loses some of its performative qualities by being presented online. As I mentioned before, theatre is a fully immersive experience, and I can only wish to imagine what a spectacular experience Scarlett’s show would have made. However, that is an issue that cannot be fixed in our current state of events and I hope Scarlett intends to perform her show live one day to give the audience the full experience of Wave Form. As for now, Scarlett has done a beautiful job adapting her show to allow us to view it online and across the world and that in itself is a commendable feat.

Wave Form has its final performance on Saturday the 20th online on the Paris Fringe YouTube channel at 14:30 (GMT+1). It is a unique show that cannot be missed.

Photo copyright to Anton Blume.