Sunday, 17 August 2014

Letters Home

Edinburgh International Book Festival
Four stars
The intimate art of letter writing may have given way to the impersonal
pings of social media over the last decade or so, but this quartet of
short works presented by site-specific maestros Grid Iron in a unique
collaboration with Edinburgh International Book Festival goes some way
to claiming it back. With the audience promenaded between a network of
addresses in and around Charlotte Square, four short stories with
themes of exile and the umbilical link with home are taken off the page
and brought to life in this gentlest of fusions between forms.

In Details, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie charts a long distance email love
affair between a Nigerian woman and her American friend. Christos
Tsiolkas' Eve and Cain brings the Bible's original dysfunctional family
together in a mother and child reunion to end them all. In the first,
Joe Douglas directs Muna Otaru and Rhoda Ofori-Attah through the
womens' painful absence on a double bed on which they email each other.
For the second, Ben Harrison has a fierce Charlene Boyd as Eve squaring
up to Gavin Marshall's Cain on a sand-covered expanse in a piece that
leans towards Greek tragedy in its classical formality.

Beyond theatre, film maker Alice Nelson renders Kamila Shamsie's War
Letters as an exquisite four-screen installation that moves between
nations charting the Indian experience of the First World War. Michael
John McCarthy has the audience buckle up for a flight from Jamaica for
a sonic rendering of Kei Miller's England In A Pink Blouse. Here we see
a young man's flight from home liberating him in a way that allows him
to be exactly who is beyond his roots.

Accompanied by low key scores by Philip Pinsky, and, in War Letters,
Zoe Irvine, all four pieces are rendered exquisitely. It is Zinnie
Harris' final postscript to the show, however, which moves the most, as
the audience is allowed to eavesdrop in on the cast's post-show state
of mind. There's something touching about seeing and hearing such
personal bon mots spoken out loud in a show that shows off Grid Iron at
their finest.
Until August 25

The Herald, August 14th 2014


ends

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