Ed Rapley

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It’s 11pm. He’s been on stage for three hours, alone, performing three shows. In between each one, he’s had a glass of water, changed out of his clothes and gone out again. It is a mammoth effort, for Ed and his audience. And we’re just sitting there.

The Self Trilogy consists of Ed’s three shows about, well, himself. Except, of course, they’re also about us. And it’s that exchange – the artist/performer exploring the depths of his existence, sharing it with us as though we’re his longest and oldest friends – that makes his work so brilliant.

For me, he perfectly encapsulates what our space can do. Much larger, any more people, and it’ll be impossible to feel personal. The informality of the space makes it feel as intimate as a podcast. And yet the theatricality of it, the glorious visuals and the humour, which relies on us being live, responsive and complicit, gives it another level. The words and images stay with you – “ha ha, that’s you Ed, ha ha”, climbing the ladder, “just do the material”, a room full of bouncing balls, Ed lying on the ground, “I know I have”.  They echo back, inform your world view, and make it make it a little more sense.

Ed hasn’t performed at the Bike Shed for two years, but when he comes back next he’ll be most welcome. Besides, that performance, that night, those three shows, that language and those pictures – they’ll keep me going for years to come.

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