Sing, River at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★½

Sing, River at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★½

★★★½ Sing, River | Pleasance Courtyard | Aug 10-15, 17-22, 24-27 | 11:45am

Nathaniel Jones delivers a technically impressive hour of solo storytelling, song & movement – which perhaps deserves more than 60 minutes to breathe.

A pre-lunch times lot and a noisy background hubbub doesn’t exactly make for the most sensitive of settings for this mash-up of British folk tale spoken word and confessional tales of formative sexual encounters.

That Jones holds the full attention of his audience – despite some dodgy soundproofing in the Pleasance Bunker – is testament to his committed performance and engaging style. The songs, particularly, are an impressive showcase of controlled, emotion-filled vocals against a bare, potentially exposing backing track. There’s nowhere to hide here, and thankfully no hiding is necessary.

When it comes to the spoken word delivery, there is a sense both of time pressures forcing the pace, and of a script well-rehearsed but yet to find space to breathe. One feels that, away from the constraints of Fringe scheduling, an extra 10 minutes would allow Jones the time to leave some necessary space for this poetic & heartfelt script to really hit home.

Nevertheless, Sing, River is an ambitious piece of queer storytelling, weaving – mostly seamlessly – between the depths of the River Thames and the unpicking of painful memories of sexual awakening.