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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 Theatre Reviews 5 - History History History - Cameo Cinema - Five stars / Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea - Underbelly - Three stars / Dust - Underbelly - Four stars

Most mornings over at the Cameo over the next couple of weeks, prior to the cinema's own programme of screenings, Cameo Live is a new initiative of film-inspired performance-based works from artists you'd be more likely to find on the Forest Fringe. First up was Deborah Pearson, one of the co-founders of that most underground breath of fresh air during festivals season over the last decade.

Pearson has a thing about film, having previously created works for the Filmhouse and the now long gone Alphabet video shop in Marchmont. Judging by her latest piece of auto-biographical story-telling, History History History, perhaps it's in the blood.

As Pearson sits at her laptop beside the big screen, the credits role on a little known Hungarian film. With a title that translates as The Wonder Striker, it is a Billy Wilder style comedy in a which a pen salesman is mistaken for a real life star footballer in a town where football is everything. The film's premiere was due to premiere on the night of what turned out to be the failed 1956 Hungarian uprising. Out of this, Pearson disrupts both her own and the film's narrative as she delves into a rich personal history that speaks about family, exile and how, if the uprising hadn't happened, Pearson wouldn't be sharing such an exquisite little pearl of shared history which has wider consequences that touch us all.
Until August 10th.


What do you do if you're trying to tell a joke but can't get to the punchline? This is the dilemma for the characters depicted by Jemima Foxtrot in Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea, a solo piece that dives in to a mess of childhood memories, pub cabaret performers and hidden personal histories that will inevitably force their way to the surface.

Standing barefoot on a patch of sand and using a loop pedal to help give voice to the songs that act as both a release and a distraction from the damage done, Foxtrot is an engaging presence, who flits between characters and incidents with an ease honed from her spoken-word background. As she attempts to get to the point, she back-pedals on herself, starting from scratch or else going off completely. As with the loops, layer on layer of criss-crossing narratives gradually unravel, until the joke is expanded with every bittersweet telling. As she finally spits it out, Foxtrot's abrupt departure suggests that for those living it as much as telling it at least, that joke isn't funny anymore.
Until August 27th


Alice is dead at the start of Dust, Milly Thomas' unflinching dissection of a young woman's suicide, told from a bird's eye view by Alice's ghost. She's over-seeing her own body laid out on a surgical slab, where she's being poked and prodded in her most intimate areas in a strictly clinical fashion. This is indicative of the personal post-mortem of her life Alice gives herself over the next hour, which sees her waft unseen at the sides of her mum and dad, her best friend Ellie and her boyfriend, who have all moved on in very different ways since her demise.

As she takes stock of where things are at without her, she rewinds to how she got to the state she did. As she eavesdrops in on the lives she left behind, Alice reveals herself to be smart, cynical and self-knowing to a degree that eventually destroys her.

Written and performed with a warts and all dynamism by Thomas herself, there's a candour about Dust that looks the audience in the eye and dares it to either pass judgement or else be sympathetic. Alice wouldn't be satisfied with either, one suspects, in a show where sex is a matter of life, death and much more besides.
Until August 26th

The Herald, August 15th 2017

ends

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