Fringe Online 2020
The words of the young people are played into the ears of our performers through headphones before being told to us through their monologues. We have a range of young people from Liverpool, Belfast, Manchester and Harare. They each have different stories to tell. One is a Bengali Muslim and another from Africa as well as the Scouse and the Belfast brogue. Each has a tale to tell that enhances our understanding of the horror of what they experienced through prejudice and you achieve an inability to comprehend how people deal with an issue that still whispers its name. interspersed we have other cameos from at least one of the male impregnators and health professionals to broaden the narrative.
This is a piece that is worth the watching as we get cultural differences aplenty whilst there is also the similarities of their experiences that stand out. The narrative for each performer has been impressively collated and thematically it is easy to chart how one then emerges from the experience of another.
The performances have an authentic feel not just because of the immediacy of the words being filtered from digital device to the camera but also in the skills of each performer. From the young Bengali woman, to having to leave your home to get on a boat to have your termination and still be in the UK, to the Liverpudlian mother with too much experience, to the horrible experience of a Zimbabwean back street abortion that leads to the worst of all consequences it asks our own humanity to intervene. It is not a call to arms nor are we to arm the barricades, but we could do with tearing down a few statues to prejudice and assumption.
I could have done with a stronger element of a counter argument. There is evidence of an anti-abortion stance, but this is mainly a delivery of the experiences from one side of the debate. I felt that the drama – being the exploration of conflict – was therefore a little too one sided. The strength of these testimonies could have taken more of a Sherry Ann who was giving her view of how she would deal with it but not getting enough space to develop the argument.
I also don’t think that the film element, though it was enhanced by the environments in which it was filmed, was its best medium. I wanted the intimacy of the theatre and wished that I could have been in an audience listening and watching and moreover being challenged.
In my past I was involved in a teenage pregnancy project in Dundee. The most profound memory that I had was of the written stories sent by the young people. They don’t haunt me, but they kept my eyes on the topic and focused. This too had the ability to hold my attention in terms of imagining what it must be like to have been them – the incredible communication of authentic testimony, the skills of the performers and a narrative overview of it all that included a young man and a few health professionals which made it all the better, even though it made me miss the theatre all the more – hardly a negative criticism at all.