Edinburgh Fringe 2017
There is a wall between two worlds that are unaware of what happens on the other side. One side has a theocratic view of life and they revere and worship the wall whilst on the other side are ready to tear it down and go exploring as they cherish progress. In each Tribe one young woman, Hannah in each, who is the daughter of those who lead their Tribes, stands out when she says she has doubts over what they have all been told and challenges the orthodoxy. This leads to each leader dying of a broken heart and Hannah being banished. Taking some of their Tribe with them, the two Hannahs dig up some evidence of other civilisations before returning to challenge their new leaders. This new leader in each Tribe is a sibling of Hannahs and rather than being become welcomed back they end up further condemned. The end comes when the wall comes down and we are left with the image of both Hannahs touching.
This is clearly based on current events, as the programme notes make clear. Using the populist genre of musical this is not about harmony but discord and the positives are all in the enthusiasm of a cast who have taken to a very difficult subject matter with gusto and total belief.
The script does tend to struggle with how to give a believable Tribe on each side in the context of a cynical 21st Century. On one side, we have a pseudo Jewish theocracy full of archaic language and on the other side there is more hashtag and sound bites than deep thought.
With a cast of over 30 and 60 minutes in which to tell the tale the script suffers with the young actors speaking the lines and scratching the surface rather than getting into deep characterisations. This would have brought much needed strength to some of the interactions. At times, it was clear that the young people had much more to give dramatically but were struggling to shine through.
As with any theatre arts course voices can be strong and some can struggle and the music which has a degree of familiarity manages to give them the opportunity to shine but also stretch their capacities. For the most part those notes were hit and the dots were joined in a bravado that was convincing.
The choreography, however as not such a strength and there were decisions on the choreography that worked well but others that were a little disjointed.
The set was functional with lighting at times a little behind the action though the music was always on point. The costumes for the theocracy were fantastic whilst on the other side I was confused as to why men were in dresses until it was explained towards the end. It would have benefitted with a clearer steer at the beginning – perhaps I missed that.
I saw the Glee Inspired Romeo and Juliet in 2013 that this company brought to the Fringe last time round. I preferred it but it was lovely to see such enthusiasm for the Festival, for the musical and for their studies and which should be thoroughly commended.