Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviews 2 - E15, Summerhall - Four stars / Equations For A Moving Body, Summerhall - Four stars / People of the Eye, Summerhall - Three stars

When twenty-nine single mothers living in sheltered housing on an East London estate were given notice to quit after Newham Council agreed to sell the flats to private property developers, it sparked a mini revolution that highlighted the ongoing disgrace of the UK's housing problem in London, Edinburgh and beyond. As the full shame of Newham Council's bully boy tactics is made clear in E15, the Lung theatre company's verbatim drama drawn from interviews with the women who instigated what became the Focus E15 campaign. Beyond this, it also demonstrates in an infectiously vibrant fashion how a fully politicised sense of community spirit can be galvanised in the face of authoritarian adversity.

The audience walk in to a stage full of noise generated by a cast of five flanked by colourful banners in a way that captures the riotous spirit of the sort of old-school protest that is so necessary right now. Co-scripted by Helen Monks and directed by Matt Woodhead, where the play could end on a false note of triumph, the action id disrupted in a way that jars such expectations, even as it evokes the full exhausting potential of people power and a will to change that may bring down governments yet.

Runs to August 27.

There is a moment mid-way through Equations For a Moving Body, Hannah Nicklin's personal reflection on how she came to swim, cycle and run her way to a triathlon finishing line, when the words stop and Nicklin sits at a desk where her laptop is placed. The images she googles which are projected behind her speak volumes about some of the personal drives behind both the show and its inspiration.

The moment is an unexpectedly moving impasse in a work that begins with Nicklin's amused sense of curiosity about what it might mean to complete such a feat of human endurance, slowly but surely gathering momentum, first from a scientific and mathematical distance, then in the thick of it, racing for dear life itself.

Nicklin captures the sport's adrenalin rush in this way that should rightly see it be made a central part of fitness campaigns around the land. But her show too is a contemplation of a very private need to achieve that sees her breaking through the pain barrier to hit the finishing line with what might just be a personal best.

Runs to August 27.

The science fiction styled title of People of the Eye may be deceptive in Erin Siobhan Hutching's personal look at how having a deaf person in the family turns its domestic world upside down. When its narrative veers off into a melange of home movies, animation, inter-active games with the audience and the correct use of sign language, however, it makes for a heartfelt and amusing topsy-turvy dramatic collage that goes beyond words to make its point.

Performed by Hutching with Emily Howlett and devised by Hutching with Sophie Stone for Jennifer K Bates' Deaf and Hearing Ensemble production, the show looks at life with a deaf child both through the parents' point of view and that of her sister who can hear. This makes for some poignant moments, as well as educational ones in a show that draws from real life experience that entertains without ever sentimentalising.

Runs to August 27.

The Herald, August 10th 2016

ends

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