Dark Noon - Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Danish company fix+foxy produces original experimental work of theatre, sound performances and digital formats. The work is driven by curiosity and a desire to create complex narratives through playful, entertaining, and accessible formats while challenging our prejudices – our presumptions and misconceptions about ourselves and the world around us.
“Dark Noon” is one of the most staggering and relentless experiences I have had in the theatre. In “Dark Noon fix+foxy collaborate with black South African actors in white face to create an epic examination of formative events from North America’s history. There are cowboy cruelties, sexual assaults, summary executions of native Americans in the dust; a saloon, gold mine, railway and church, actors film a western with cowboys and Indians, gold diggers, missionaries, and a host of deadly gunfights.
Together with director Tue Biering and choreographer Nhlanhla Mahlangu the actors dive into a time when 35 million hungry and poor Europeans fled west across the Atlantic to get a second chance, conquer gold and chase an American dream. Neither black nor white lives matter in the pursuit of happiness and the relationship between the West and Africa is turned inside out. The audience never knows what to expect; we are dragged onstage to be sold Coca-Cola or sold off in a slave auction. This is savage theatre, an electric 100 minutes which is part documentary, part fiction told by cannibalising wild west cliches – the shootout, the saloon, the little house on the prairie – only to eviscerate them with increasingly entertaining displays of post-colonial vandalism.
“They say history is told by the victors,” the show’s tagline reads. “In “Dark Noon”, the story is told by the vanquished.”
Broken into chapters and beginning on a large, empty stage of dry clay on canvas, North America is literally built before our eyes. An entire frontier town is gradually constructed on stage. Multilingual, supported by live video and a revolving suite of narrators, song, comedy, and physicality “Dark Noon” exposes the awful absurdity of the notion of European supremacy that has permeated and dominates the global imagination. The show uses the tropes of Wild West cinema conventions (the Western) to critique the invasion of the Americas and position the frontier as a site of colonial violence.
It's often gruesome and leans into grand guignol as “Dark Noon” is as expansive as it is personal, chaotic, and intimate. The tawdry theatricality of a cheap blonde wig atop a hastily whitened face becomes sweat stained and smeared with dirt and lipstick. Action frantically mounts as cheerleaders dance while First Nations peoples are massacred. Meta theatricality if rife and all contributed to a rich historical and social commentary.
“Dark Noon” is a unique event in my theatre going life and I am very pleased to have experienced this brilliant creation.