Edinburgh Fringe 2019
We have three women onstage who are Caribbean and gay. From a society where it is at best awkward and at worst dangerous to be openly gay, they have spent time talking to other Caribbean women who have similar stories. It brings us incredible narratives of strength and togetherness the like of which inspires you. There is a number of threads including have the story of trying to come out to your mother, trying to hide how you feel about your best friend and set pieces like the Relatable Gay Contact. It celebrates the ideal of carnival, a Caribbean method of challenging and cocking a snook at authority because authority should not have its snook in anyone’s affairs.
The cause is a noble one. It is easy to become engaged in wanting to man (or non binary) the barricades just because you have sympathy for it. The theatricality of the performance piece, however is what we want to celebrate, as much as that freedom to challenge authority and declare solidarity with the cause. Here Splintered managed to achieve the aim of being theatrical and very worthwhile. Each of our three hosts managed to play their roles in getting us onside and making us understand what their lives are all about. It’s a piece of theatre that director Emily Aboud has crafted with such care.
In the script, also by Emily Aboud, the hypocrisy of men was highlighted but this was not a narrative of poor me or full on anti men; far from it. Aboud has not created a storyline of how oppression comes from one set of gender rather than another. It was about how the celebration of who they are is all about becoming who they need to be. Aboud has given us a positive set of stories, from the woman who found love at University to the one who tried to hide it so she would not lose her best friend; though her geography mark in her exam might not be too good.
There were set pieces that shone a little more than others and they included the lipsync interview, and the voice overs – hearing it first hand was a privilege and knowing the suffering, hearing it in their voices was as liberating as it was heartbreaking.
There were sections which were hard to hear, some of the interplay needed some more fluidity and the songs were invitations to the audience to become involved that could have been more confidently handled.
But at no point were we allowed to dwell. The Query Godmothers onstage would not allow that. At times it may have felt a little scrappy and some of the coming on and leaving was clumsy but overall this had enough glitz and glamour, cliché and songs to be sung, dances to be made and celebrations to be had that we held a carnival in Bedlam; how ironically suitable is that…