Edinburgh Fringe 2017
This is a very personal testimony from writer, Jaimini Jethwa that is performed by Rehanna MacDonald, which takes us from a young refugee’s time in Dundee as a young adult growing up aware and wary of her past in some form or other. Her growth leads her to question whether or not she needs to tell the stories of those who came to Britain, like her family, after their expulsion in 1972. She knows that they were given room but no voice. It leads her to Leicester and then Uganda before coming back as a more enlightened young woman who had found what she had been looking for – or at least thought she had but returned to find sadness was always part of her story.
This is not one person’s story but an amalgamation of experiences that gives it greater and not less authenticity. The development of the script appears to have been quite an arduous process but the end result was worth the effort. It comes across as an assured and confident rendering of the tales that grew from experiences the like of would be too awful to believe if they were not being daily played out upon our television screens.
With such a script, the direction and the performance has to match it and here I was less convinced that Stellar Quines got it right. Rehanna MacDonald is a very engaging stage presence whilst Jemima Levick’s direction has an assuredness that allows her to inhabit the stage. The problem I found was that the pace at times dipped as the reliance on one actor, no matter how accomplished, can feel pushed. The set pieces like the car journey or nights out where Patricia Panther became involved were particular highlights but when we were on a solo journey the material felt like a burden at times.
The music was not my type of music but it was engaging enough and it would be unfair to be overly critical. Of the people, around me that saw it they loved it so what do I know? What I do know was that it fitted perfectly and I did love the Dundee song that became a motif.
Overall as this is Stellar Quines, I had very high hopes that were more or less largely met. The topic is just so important that it should not be judged on the basis of one script and should open the floodgates to so many more on the same topic. Credit should be given though for a decision that was highly creative to go back to days that, for many are long and conveniently forgotten. It hit more spots than missed and therefore got my attention throughout.