Edinburgh Fringe 2023
A new play by Eve Leigh and directed by Debbie Hannan….”Salty Irina is about two girls falling in love and fighting nazis. After a series of racist murders in their town, Anna and Eireni decide to infiltrate a far-right festival to identify the culprits. But when the nature of their relationship is uncovered, their safety is under threat. A coming-of-age story set against the rise of the far-right.”
Salty Irina is a play about two young women, Anna and Eirini, who decide to infiltrate a neo-Nazi music festival in order to find out who is responsible for a series of racist murders in their town. Written by Eve Leigh and directed by Debbie Hannan this lesbian romance enthrals, amuses, delights and peturbs. A mix of genres, it blends elements of romance and political drama that feel very timely given the rise of neo-Nazism and other forms of extremism in recent years.
From the moment the stage lights hit Yasemin Özdemir and Hannah Van Der Westhuysen you are entranced by their sheer magnetism, not just as characters and performers but towards each other. Magnetically drawn to each other and repelled away, the excellent staging and engaging physical theatre elements blend seamlessly with the beautifully crafted sound and lighting design. Eirini and Anna share the story of how they met with each other and add in comical asides to keep the audience blissfully ensconced in their romance. And we are.
Where we are and when we are is kept (I believe) intentionally vague with the odd hint from the dialogue. Sadly that left me guessing throughout rather allowing myself to believe that, in fact, this could be anywhere at any time, as I suspect the writer darkly intended. In this same vein the plot did sometimes feel a bit contrived, even though I was very willing to throw myself wholeheartedly into their naive world of pure love and fighting for what is right no matter what. Bash The Fash! The good guys always win right?
The play is an extremely enjoyable and thought-provoking piece with a timely reminder of the dangers of extremism and the importance of fighting for tolerance and equality. The ending sadly crossed the line for me from a powerful explosion of hope to being just a touch too preachy. However, this does not take away from the incredibly joyous performances from Özdemir and Van Der Westhuysen. Two beautiful souls just trying to find their way and their home in a city that is growing claws.