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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Almost 13

Ego Actus

Genre: Solo Performance, Solo Show, Theatre

Venue: Greenside @ Infirmary Street


Low Down

“Almost 13 is a solo drama about a young girl surviving a hot, violent summer in Brooklyn. All she wants to do is jump in the waves at Coney Island and see the fireworks. Emotionally broken from witnessing a murder, she finds herself dancing with a ghost. Can she endure being caught between a disintegrating working-class family at home and racial violence on the streets? Like Japanese Kintsugi pottery, she is reduced to shards and rebuilt more resilient than before. Award-winning theatre artist Joan Kane plays all 10 colourful Brooklynites.”


Joan Kane is the writer, actor, and central character in this autobiographical solo play. Kane also plays all the characters and brings to vivid life her days growing up in New York, where the gangs of South Brooklyn protect their territory and woebetide anyone who strays onto their patch. Racism, violence, threat and fear mingle with the wonder of the city, of coin fishing and trips to Coney Island.

From an over-bearing, guilt-tripping mother to the horrors of harsh Catholicism, Kane deftly charts her days of an innocence soon to be shattered by witnessing a gang murder, portraying a devilish hoodlum leader whose homicidal act is sheer horror, not only for the child who saw it up close for real but also for an audience gripped, shocked and leaning in reluctantly yet necessarily to also bear witness to a child sent mute from what she should never have beheld. Shock set in stone, shock that lingers in the shadows for her later years and perhaps sharing the story can bring some resolution. It has become her duty to tell it.

This is direct, multi-character, solo story theatre, delivered with authority and care by a woman looking back, recounting her tale for an audience of today, bearing witness again and again each time she performs this show.

As theatre there is scope to define characters a little more tightly and to physically place vocal delivery more precisely in parts. That will always sharpen as the show develops over its run.

With well selected, necessary props, just a few sound effects and some economic and effective use of lighting, this is a city brought to life for an Edinburgh audience, a thoroughly engaging and revealing story. The ending is necessarily polemical, an entreaty to not push down but to reach out to the love of family and friends. The play takes us courageously and sensitively into the uncomfortabe territory of childhood trauma that never quite leaves the victim, but can be borne, lived with, even transformed. That transformation has taken place successfully through the medium of theatre by this brave and courageous woman. Joan Kane sets an example to others to face up to their stories and to be prepared to share them in order to disseminate, perhaps dissipate and gain some healing through the process.

This is visceral, credible and well written drama, documentary yet delivered in part-fictional style through character acting, storytelling, occasional heart-breaking humour and a life-affirming message that lingers as we leave the theatre, pondering, humbled and ready to start talking further about Almost 13.