Edinburgh Fringe digital review: Aionos

Aionos is just what the fringe is made for, a technically ambitious show offered in three formats – live on stage, livestream online (via the Discord server, of more later), livestream via VR headset.

It’s a game, a history lesson, and a non-participatory online chat. At first we are invited to watch as an elderly lady, Dahlia, passes over to endure some trials in the underworld.

When this doesn’t prove possible, a trio of gods head there instead, going into various virtual worlds which are brilliantly crafted and packed with detail.

There’s a lot going on in this stream, which I watched on a standard smartphone. At first I couldn’t find how to access the stream (thanks Aionos support for helping) and then couldn’t get the stream in fullscreen (thank you Google, it’s a double click).

Once in, you see three split screens, two showing the live show with actors driving the movements of their virtual counterparts, and one with the VR world itself.

The sound is sharp and clear, although one actor seemed to be a little close to their microphone at times with a bit of notable interference.

As a piece of theatre, this doesn’t have a particularly strong plot, and if you’ve seen characters pass through rooms and doors in gameplay, the twists and turns in Aionos will be familiar.

Utilising cast in both Edinburgh and Totonto, this show is very slick and clearly has had a lot of thought put into its characters and online worlds.

Screencaps from the livestream of Aionos

I may return before the festival ends to try casting the stream to my TV to read the scrolling chat, which continues throughout the show, but it didn’t seem essential on a quick look.

What makes Aionos an intriguing show is that it mixes so many ideas within fifty minutes and allows audiences to make the most of the experience in whatever way they want.

I was struck by the fact that some shows produced during the pandemic on Zoom pushed the ability for artists and audiences to interact throughout the proceedings.

Perhaps future iterations of Aionos could integrate some of this functionality (I have no idea of the abilities or limitations of Discord on this) to make the VR and gameplay fans feel more invested in the plot.

An intriguing piece of experimental theatre that is well worth catching in whatever fotmat you find most comfortable. Oh, and Dahlia? Keep watching until the end for a treat.

If you can swallow the idea of Ancient Egypt mashing up with reality TV, this is for you. Everyone will come away with different ideas on what they have just seen, which is part of the fun.

Aionos is a collaboration between Toasterlab, Debbie Deer Productions, and immersive actor/director/designer Ari Tarr.

You can experience Aionos throughout Edinburgh Fringe – for the live show book here and for the online show book here.


2 thoughts on “Edinburgh Fringe digital review: Aionos

  1. I saw it live. It was utter trash. I’ve seen experimental theatre. I’ve seen tech-savvy, innovative theatre. This was none of that. Aionos had no actors (just kids), no direction and no stage blocking. One ‘actor’ just sits there, blocking half the view doing IT admin.

    This was a bunch of kids on an academic blag – total waste of time, money and effort. Shite.

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