Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Four actors who have a learning disability take us from Dear Diary moments to explore the themes of one of the most natural wishes in the world – to have sex and to be parents. The uncomfortable topic of sex and relationships for the learning disabled are tackled without fury but the anger is there. We get a quiz show with audience interaction and at all times the show is run by those who should be heard and not ignored. It includes a mixture of video and technical gifts that many would consider beyond the capabilities of the actors onstage – like so much of this show, they prove people wrong.
Housed on what seems like a bare stage, theatre arts bring screens to use to show film, microwaves to give us popcorn, voiceovers to help illustrate points, lockers filled with costumes to help explain and explore further and a table that goes from the birthing pool to where we can house the game show. In amongst this is a number of set pieces and thoughts about parenthood that help us to understand how awful it can be to have no control over your destiny or that of the living human being inside you.
I cried. When a voiceover suggests that one mother has to be prepared for the possibility that her baby will be taken away from her because of who she is and not what she has done it is tragic. Truly tragic.
There is just so much thematically about this piece that does not warm your heart but makes it trickle with tears.
But let’s get away from the patronising. The company are not in Edinburgh to show us what is worthy, they are here as professional actors – how does their piece stand up theatrically?
Superbly is the answer.
This is one of the first times I have seen the issue of learning disability being used as an effective means of performing rather than something that ought to be over supported and hidden. This cast nailed it because there was a clear feeling of connection and integration between the cast and their creative team.
This works because there is a desire from the cast to engage with their and challenge the audience and be judged on a level playing field, but not try and get their sympathy – it’s an adult conversation.
Highlights included the video being used as a baby, the game show, the explanation of the science of it all and the video and voiceover. But where it took my breath away was the dance sequence where all four shook themselves and had only one thing in common – they were enjoying themselves. The explanation of how many learning disabled people in England end up pregnant using the brilliant visual metaphor of the rubbish on the floor – inspired.
I stood up at the end with many others to applaud. The numbers in the audience were small though highly appreciative.
Here’s a thought.
Stuff chucking yer money in a bucket to patronise this worthy cause. Get your bum in their seat, buy a ticket and support it just the same with cash and your presence – you will not regret it.