Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Freeze!, Nick Steur

At what point does the act of doing something become a performance? Is it when an audience is placed in front of the work? Or when careful constructs are formulated around an idea? If a man balances some rocks in a room, is it a piece of art, or a personal challenge that needs no audience? At what point do we see something beyond just skill, and see art or theatre? These are the sorts of questions that I’m left with after watching Nick Steur’s Freeze! at Summerhall.

The piece is simple: Steur balances a number of rocks of differing shapes and sizes on reflective boxes. The rocks look as if they could never balance, they’re heavy and rugged. By finding the points of weight and balance, Steur is able to align the rocks to stand upon each other. It’s incredibly difficult to comprehend the skill and time it must have taken to develop this much knowledge about these rocks. There’s a certain beauty and harmonious air to the piece; the concentration required reminds me of a spiritual figure attempting to find the space between breaths.

Over this balancing act (although don’t see it as circus or trickery) a voiceover is heard from a speaker placed upon Steur’s head. The voice, we presume that of Steur himself, leads us through the thoughts and consideration behind the piece, but also talks about space, time, the presence of a spectator and other somewhat philosophical questions. It becomes apparent that whilst Steur may to be a performer himself, its the consideration of the piece as a whole that lead us to consider this a piece of theatre. The elements together make it a performance piece.

I’m not sure how much of this is enjoyable, or indeed theatrical, but there is something in this work. Bemusing but sort of breathtaking, Freeze! has to be the most bizarre and oddly formed piece at this year’s Fringe.

Originally published on A Younger Theatre.