Edinburgh Fringe 2023
An intense and well executed piece of physical theatre, Rewind tells the story of Alicia, one of the disappeared in Latin America, and of the human rights defenders, mothers and forensic anthropologists working to uncover what happened to them and to fight for justice.
Profoundly moving and beautifully performed.
Rewind is a passionate, well executed piece of physical theatre uncovering the story of the disappeared in Argentina. It is inspired by the testimonies of refugees whose lives were affected by dictatorship during the 1970s in Latin America and young adult migrants whose lives have been affected by human rights abuses in Latin America in 2019-2022. But if that makes it sound like a very dry and worthy show – far from it, this is a riveting show which is profoundly moving.
Rewind starts with Andres Velasquez from Colombia coming onto the stage to give context to the show. He talks about the human rights abuses that have plagued Latin America since the 1970s – apparently 46% of the murders of human rights defenders took place in Colombia – and the human rights defenders, such as the Mothers of the Disappeared and the forensic anthropologists, who have worked courageously to uncover what happened to people who were ‘disappeared’.
After this prologue in which Andres gently reminds us of the reality that Rewind is highlighting, the rest of the cast joins Andres on stage. They are from a number of different countries: Colombia, Iceland, Brazil, the UK and work together to devise work which is driven by social issues. Eyglo Belafonte plays the mother of a young woman who has been disappeared with a quiet dignity, clad in a white scarf, she is both Alicia’s mother and represents all those Mothers of the Disappeared who stood on the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to fight for justice. Andres is compelling as the head of a team of boiler-clad forensic anthropologists exhuming a mass grave to find out what happened and to seek justice.
The ensemble team use few words to convey their message. Instead they display an intensely energetic physicality, music and fantastic design in a rather confined space to tell their story.
As well as the physicality of the performers, a skeleton and a shirt are pulled into service as puppets to powerful and moving effect. Alex Paton’s music integrates perfectly into the show. Directed by Ramon Ayres, the physical theatre, mime, puppetry and movement of its ensemble cast is compelling.
The visuals are strong: red and green shreds of paper fill the stage as Alicia is killed. A simple overhead projector is used to project images onto the backdrop of drawers. Projected graffiti tells us “A people with memory is a democracy forever’. Ephemeral uses the power of storytelling to ensure the disappeared are part of our collective memory.
Fittingly for a show whose aim is to illuminate what has been too long hidden in darkness, lighting plays a central role in the production. A string of lights hung up around the stage in a square form the main lighting. They are supplemented by a variety of additional lights from a handheld standard lamp held over individual performers like an umbrella, torches and other handheld lights spotlight found objects or actions. Josephine Tremelling’s lighting design complements the subject matter of the show perfectly with ingenious but entirely appropriate choices of lighting.
As the box of Alici’s remains is replaced in its drawer, the performers turn drawers around to reveal photographs of more and more of the disappeared, bringing home to us that Alicia is just one of so many more.
Highlighting the disappeared of Argentina and the human rights defenders in Argentina is the lodestar of this play, and Ephemeral gives this heartfelt voice. The ensemble bring an incredible passion and commitment to bringing the voices of the disappeared into the theatre and to our attention. Powerful and moving, Rewind will stay in the hearts and minds of anyone who has seen it for a long time