Edinburgh 2013: Leaving Planet Earth


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The Independent Culture

What kind of people would inhabit a brave new world, leave behind the war and pollution of old earth and start again on a fresh planet? If Grid Iron’s site-specific, immersive piece for the International Festival is anything to go by, not terribly endearing ones.

As the last people to leave this grimy galaxy speed along the Western Approach Road in a coach, our "mentor" talks us through what happens next. We will make “the jump” to New Earth. At the acclimatisation centre (which turns out to be the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre at Ratho) we will learn how to live in our new pods without suffering from debilitating home sickness (“the pull”).

After a quick discussion of jump-lag, we are ushered from section to section get the hang of the new planet. The early arrivals – space-daft Asian doctor, argumentative old leftie and torn-faced Vela, who dreamed the whole thing up – show us the museum of memories and what passes for fun in outer space. (Beer that’s 1.5 per cent ABV, apparently.)

Several promising story lines emerge, then fizzle into the atmosphere. Should Vela cut the final ties with Old Earth, even though her sister was not on the final bus –sorry, spaceship – with the rest of us? What experiences should we take with us, to relive time and time again? Will the woman whose husband has the pull have him put down? After all, before making the jump, we have all pledged, as citizens of New Earth, that we will not be “burdens to humanity”.

Who knows? It all ends in a sound and light show within the quarry-turned-climbing-centre. The Orb could have come on at any moment. It looked good but added up to nothing much at all.

To 24 August (0131 473 2000)