Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Nights are dark and lonely at the end of the world. In the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse, a girl frantically tunes a hand-cranked radio, listening for signs of life. Finding only silence, she decides to end it all. Just as the radio finally crackles to life.
The Voices We Hear takes place at an indeterminate moment in the future, when our current disregard for the planet has run its course and there are few survivors. It is the last show of the day (21.15) at the innovative (and much needed) zero waste venue: the Greenhouse by BoxedIn Theatre. It is a small round intimate space ten minute’s walk from the frantic centre of the Fringe where BoxedIn have created a venue from materials that would otherwise be going to landfill – pallet wood, repurposed wood doors and (new) perspex roofing that was surplus to requirements by the bigger venues building outdoor bars.
The show is a devised piece directed by Oli Savage and Louis Catliff and takes an intimate look at how societal and environmental collapse would affect our key need for connection with other people.
A young woman desperately tries to find some signs of life on a hand cranked radio. Giving up she swallows first one, then another, and the rest of a bottle of powerful pain killers. And the walkie talkie radio crackles into life, there is somone out there. A young woman who has found a way to survive, to carry on, to talk to…
The action takes place as the light fades, concluding in near darkness with just the glow of two solar powered LED lamps. The effect is both chilling and atmospheric (I went on a rather cool night). The rest of the fringe feels a long way away, it’s impossible to imagine what that world will be like but the writing is both evocative and atmospheric and grounded in every day details, the finding of food, meeting others driven mad and violent as they struggle for survival. There are moments of humour as well as of pathos.
Molly Williams and Georgina Savage play Alex and B (just B), circling one another but communicating entirely through short wave radios. Williams and Savage create two very different characters that spar and connect, question and wonder, characters that we care about.
They also cope well with the short wave radios, a tricky device because it’s very easy to talk to the radio and lose the audience; however, they hold our attention throughout. Using the radio’s is a tricky device because, in reality you can’t have a conversation as you would on a phone. Only one person can speak at a time whilst depressing the transmit button so, used properly, the conversation would be very broken and disjointed which might make it impossible to maintain the pace of the story. At the same time there might be scope to make more of that constraint and the frustration and misunderstandings it could/would engender. This is the first real conversation either have had with another human in… we don’t know how long and it would be fascinating to consider in more depth just how hard that might be.
This is a perfect piece to end your Fringe day on a quieter and more thoughtful note than amidst all the noise, bustle and vibrancy of the festival. You will walk home suddenly more aware of all the traffic, the noise, the amount of power being consumed by the lights around you…