Hijinx’s mission statement speaks of pioneering, producing and promoting inclusive theatre to reach from local to international levels; Meet Fred is their mission statement personified. Having seen the production for the second time I became even more clear of this message and the questions it asks of it’s audience.
Meet Fred is an innovative idea that has been in development for 2 years in association with the puppetry company Blind Summit. The idea of Meet Fred grew from Blind Summit’s workshops with Hijinx leading to the character creation of a puppet who wanted to be seen as so much more than what society expects of him. This integration in society Fred strives for can be said to be a symbol of what we all seek; acceptance and indeed the strength to look past limitations. In particular for those living with disabilities; to experience the goals and milestones many often take for granted.
The journey takes it’s audience on a day in the life of Fred, however this day takes us through his experiences with love, work, daily life and even the question of his own mortality. The day in the life of Fred asks you to look beyond his physical limitations and root for him to make it through. Fred’s reliance on his puppeteers sees a battle of dependence vs. interdependence with the director of his story and Jack his no-nonsense, straight talking job centre advisor.
I was once again enthralled by the technicality and commitment clearly invested in the puppetry skills created by Morgan Thomas, Dan McGowan and Craig Quat who brought every inch of Fred to life so much so that all I saw was Fred and his quirky, outspoken and brilliant persona not what was holding him back. One of Hijinx’s visions is of a society where people with disabilities are admired for their capabilities rather than tolerated for their inabilities, Meet Fred asks us as an audience to look beyond all that holds people back and encourage and support all the amazing qualities that can push people forward to a life of boundless opportunities and equality.
Stage Manager was played with such tenacity by Martin Vick in Fred’s closing moments, he was a character that came to the forefront as we reached the climax of Fred’s journey. Fred’s decision to take back the control of his life ran parallel to Martin’s character who realised that despite his disability he did not have to put up with the demands of his intolerant director and was to be seen and heard in his stance of strength.
As the jam-packed theatre was filled with choruses of laughter it was great to see that a collaborative process had injected so much energy, laughter and good spirit which created a finished product that not only made you laugh out loud but resonated long after you had left the performance.
Meet Fred shows us that even though ‘dreams may not pay the bills’ each and every one of us has the ability to look and achieve far beyond what we expect of ourselves and what others may limit us to.
Meet Fred continues it’s run at The Other Room until Saturday 2nd July and then on to Edinburgh Fringe 5th-25th August.