If there’s one thing obvious to even an Edinburgh Fringe novice, it’s the effort put in – usually by the performers themselves – when tickets aren’t selling.
There’s an eagerness on those people’s faces. It sometimes comes across as heart-breaking desperation.
When One Day Moko performer Tim Carlsen was out looking for punters one rather grumpy potential ticket buyer responded, “I haven’t decided what I’d like to see next. I’d like to do that alone. Back off.”
It reads worse than it actually sounded at the time, believe me. There were laughs – nervous ones from both parties – intended to navigate an awkward moment. Neither could quite believe what had just been in said.
In fairness to me, I hadn’t got quite got into the Fringe vibe by that point.
Carlsen’s work paid off. Just before we parted – me a little dazed by my dismissiveness – he managed to get the time of the performance in. Two minutes later I’d bought myself a ticket.
It wasn’t guilt that motivated me, more the desire to see something at a particular time and not too far away from where I was standing. The interaction was critical and it resulted in a real discovery.
One Day Moko is an hour-long piece of one-man theatre about street-bound Moko who just wants to sing you a song – he’s always asking for requests. Moko’s life is as you would expect: hard. But, the man has a hard of gold, one cocooned in a Jim Carey-esque exterior.
Moko wants you to like him, but he wants to like you more. He pulls us in with the telling of his story, his interactions with the audience triggering an unexpected reaction. People respond with compassion, perhaps even love. Their better side is being given a chance to shine. Those more circumspect look on wondering why it is we can’t be a little more like those in the front row.
Carlsen loves to sing, possesses a remarkably versatile voice). He captures the hearts of the audience with manic energy and a sweet damaged heart. When he has you there doing his bidding, he’ll tell you the heart-breaking stories of his friends.
The performance sees resourcefulness, a bottomless reserve of energy, and an infectious combination of hope and love. We don’t get redemption, nor solutions. Instead, Carlsen’s performance triggers a personal silent pledge that you’ll stop ignoring the bloke with the dog outside your train station the next time you’re there.
Mainstream media fail performers like Carlsen by not bringing their work to a wider audience. A good performance is one you want to tell others about the moment you realise you’ve been swept away; One Day Moko was just that.
The process of persuading people to come and experience a piece of innovative theatre isn’t that much different from begging for money. Carlsen’s performance, like a good many others at the Fringe, began before the advertised start time. Had we not have had that awkward exchange there’s a strong chance I wouldn’t have gone to see it. Serendipity delivered like it always does.