Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2024

an accident/ A Life

Marc Brew and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Genre: Biography, Dance, Dance and Movement Theatre, True-life

Venue: Tramway Theatre


Low Down


Marc Brew is a dance artist who, in 1997, whilst in South Africa, was in a headlong car accident with a drunk driver. The driver apparently had an injured knee after the event. Marc ended up paraplegic, and his three friends died. This is the story of that night and what happened thereafter. We begin with a car onstage with which Marc interacts, enters and begins his story. What follows is a multi-media process of a live feed, recorded voices, Brew’s dance and narrative whilst we are taken from the side of the road, cardiac arrest (s), his recovery, ambulance travel, plane travel, a mother putting her life on hold to help her son, a mother bathing her 20 year-old son when nurses were unavailable and caring for a remarkable spirit who refused to do anything but live a new life.


I was struck as I watched this that to describe Brew’s performance, bringing this monumental event onto a stage and invite people to witness and comment upon it as brave would be lazy. It has brave elements to it and given the level of exposure recently to people accused of sanitizing their lives through pictures, it would be simple to just say wow and leave it there.

But Brew has brought this to the stage for a reason – not I think for catharsis, nor to warn or even blame the drunk driver – he has brought it to the stage, in my opinion, because it has given him a creative edge which is artistically powerful and meaningful. In short, this is not a pity party or an appeal for admiration, it’s a damn fine piece of creative artistry. It is dance at its finest.

It is the creative nuances that give it that power. The crash test dummy costumes, the dropping of a dummy from a height, the television in the car bonnet that opens and allows the seriousness of the surgeries to be played out by Brew live facing the camera. It is the use of colour which, with the vibrant red tracksuit, different colour beanies and the alphabet board on the car bonnet – when shut – which draws your attention and focus.

That focus is on life.

Brew has a commanding presence when he moves, using his body in shapes and ways that I at my age and stage can only marvel at. His narrative – and my only criticism was that at times it felt a little stilted and not quite flowing as it should – told the tale with remarkable simplicity and a delivery that invited critical judgment and not emotional entanglement. Mum did that for me. Her interview was the type of morning TV gold which can be nothing less than an authentic voice telling it the way it was.

Mum should be in more; mum should be a critic…

But the major element that worked so well was the integration of videography, staging and knowing what a theatre space is. There was a playfulness with the camera and the two unnamed and unknown support artists who helped move the stage and set the cameras were an astonishingly touching addition to that story.

There is much, when I close my eyes that have remained in my memory – the spinning wheelchair at the end, the lifting of the car on its axis, its return to become a functional part of the set nose down, the physical representation of chest compressions and the skeletal costume that Brew, though frail, inhabits with strength and power.

But the synergy of these elements under the gaze of a choreographer with such skill as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui mark a collaboration which brought my emotional intelligence into full swing. I left, without pity, suffering from little by way of admiration but with plenty to discuss around a piece of exceptional artistry. If Brew has done anything with an event which many would be unable to recover fully from, he has proven that through art, life endures. His especially.