wendy houstoun 10143{extravote 5} Wendy Houstoun's Pact With Pointlessness was the final Edinburgh Fringe show I saw, and it was a wonderful show to finish with, effortlessly summing up the mania, hilarity, sincerity, theatricality, tongue-in-cheek dancing and whimsy of the attention-deficit Fringe.


The programme notes promise us "an hour of absurd action" and "a philosophical piece of stupidity" which describes Pact With Pointlessness well: for much of the piece, Wendy Houstoun delivers a madcap stream of consciousness, attempting to address The Big Questions in life, but only until she gets distracted by wordplay and her use of limitless free association; for example, at one stage she refers to Nietzsche, then asks if it's Nietzsche or nurture. The only reprieves Houstoun receives from her feverish monologue are from the interruptions of the equally madcap score, and such is the byplay between Houstoun and the score that at times the piece appears to be a duet between the two.

From the start, Wendy Houstoun keeps the audience on its toes, whether by randomly disappearing offstage or through the scenes and imagery she presents us with - whether the best use of a cardboard box I've seen in dance for a very long time, the dances she creates, some of which brilliantly send up contemporary and expressive dance, or her poignant duet with a bucket, in lieu of a partner.

While Pact With Pointlessness was created in response to the untimely death of Nigel Charnock, and indeed absence is a recurring theme throughout the work, it's an affirming work, and so very playful and witty. So few artists would have the courage to create a work like Pact With Pointlessness, which is all the more reason to see it if you can.