Friday, 22 August 2014

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre Reviews 13 - No Guts, No Heart, No Glory / The Trial of Jane Fonda / Sirens

No Guts, No Heart, No Glory
Sandy's Boxing Gym
Four stars
Not a punch is thrown in anger in the Common Wealth company's follow-up
to Our Glass House,
one of the sleeper hits of last year's Fringe. In its real-life
show-and-tell played out by a determined quintet of young female Muslim
boxers, however, this new piece's depiction of young women empowering
themselves enough to find a voice beyond their backgrounds is
inspirational.

Taking place in Sandy's Gym housed in a community centre in
Craigmillar, director Evie Manning and writer Aisha Zia have
choreographed a criss-crossing confessional that moves from a training
session with punchbag and skipping ropes to climbing in the ring and
declaiming like champions. On one level, the young womens' concerns –
about themselves, their families and the world that would rather define
them in other ways while behaving crazily to each other – are the stuff
of any teenage rites of passage. In the context of their race, religion
and what must have been a huge set of decisions to jump in the ring, No
Guts, No Heart, No Glory transcends that to become an irresistible
things about muscle, guts and the determination to stand up for who you
are in an increasingly mad world.
Until August 25

The Trial of Jane Fonda
Assembly Rooms
Three stars
When movie starlet turned political activist turned up in the
Connecticut town of Waterbury in 1988 to film her new movie, Stanley
and Iris, in 1988, in a town with an especially high population of
Vietnam war veterans, she was forced to face up to her past in a way
she didn't expect. This is the backdrop for Terry Jastrow's new play,
which reimagines a off-limits event in which Fonda met the ex-soldiers
boycotting her presence in town in a local church hall.

As a vehicle for another Hollywood icon, Anne Archer, Jastrow's
production of her own script lines up the arguments that Fonda was a
traitor who allowed herself to be filmed on a Vietnamese gun positioned
to shoot down American forces. On one level, this is an an entire
period of American history on trial, in which a young, wealthy and
often famous counter-cultural elite flirted with a  radical chic that
came back on them and sometimes bit them hard. As Fonda argues her
case, however, Jastrow's at times overly sentimental premise suggests
that Fonda might actually have stopped the war.

Whatever the truth of this, and while Archer is no Fonda, the archive
footage – of Fonda, of soldiers in the field who committed war crimes,
and of the politicians who sent them there – points up an at times
fascinating insight into a vital era of late twentieth century history
that went beyond he big  screen.
Until August 24.

Sirens
Summerhall
Four stars
Six women step onstage in formal evening gowns and place their
manuscripts on a series of lecterns in front of them. The formality of
such an opening might suggest a choral recital of politesse and
restraint. What follows over the next hour of Belgian company
Ontroerend Goed's latest confessional dissection of human behaviour,
however, is a provocative litany of self-determination and power, in
which all the everyday abuses inflicted on women are thrown back in our
faces in a strictly personal fashion. This is no harangue, however. The
performers strike a pose, ach first-hand experience delivered with a
raging calm. The keening chorale that accompanies the hardcore porn
being projected behind the performers ends up as the wittiest of
soundtracks.

In form and delivery, Alexandra Devriendt's production resembles a
spikier, less self-congratulatory Vagina Monologues that goes further,
the performers looking the audience in the eye as they draw strength
from their words. It's an intimate aesthetic which Devriendt and
Ontroerend Goed have applied elsewhere. Here, however, the elegant
simplicity of its presentation becomes an unnerving but all too
necessary show of strength.
Until August 24th.

The Herald, August 22nd 2014


ends

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