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Fringe Online 2020


Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Genre: Cabaret, Political

Venue: Traverse Theatre


Low Down

Three actors onstage set the scene in shared monologues, bedecked in shades, hats and black suits. From there we get a 1920’s style cabaret, think cabaret, cabaret – run at issues and the background of why #metoo is a vital part of our cultural landscape. That includes a run through sections entitled POP CULURE, TESTIMONY and a final section with a song that is designed to live long in the memory. As it is a cabaret style, we get music more than drama but where there is drama there are authentic voices heard from interviews conducted with women who have experienced the very things now upon our stage.


This was an interesting piece online that did make me want to go and see it live – is that a compliment? It does however struggle with its own identity. If I accept it as a cabaret, do I want to have the polemic so obvious, or would I rather not be entertained but have a more upfront message delivered? It means that there are elements within the script which hit home but together there are structural issues where the flows and ebbs are out of synch.

Where it works though, it is inspired. The flute in the DUP rap made me chuckle and the underlying message all too obvious to those of us who know the “tradition”. The authentic words of people who have experienced the horror of what we read about in newspapers, comes across very well. In the section, testimony, I could have heard more and been challenged more by their witnessing the very real abuse. Because we are taken on a journey that is a tad disjointed it means the ideas often don’t get enough room to breath. We do have an evidential basis, right in front of us, for believing the very drama unfolding but it stuck in my mind rather than asked me to offer some action.

The writing therefore does have a problem. It has genuine testimony – the woman who talked of just needing a kick up the bahooky was particularly resonant – but the point gets a wee bit lost in the telling. I was constantly asking myself, within the context of a cabaret, how far can you push such a political point?

From that springs the direction and it has a difficult job. Clare Duffy has done a remarkable job. She needs to achieve a lot more than just avoiding the furniture, and she has set the set pieces beautifully, each slipping into the next with ease and aplomb.

It is always be a pleasure, I am sure, to see George Drennan in a leotard, but that should never detract from the glory of three actors with a compelling stage presence that sold the ideas beautifully.

Although I was watching through the medium of the internet, I was impressed by both the lighting and sound; all of the theatre arts were craftily applied. As a package it works well and whilst I was already sold on the idea of #metoo, a new perspective was opened. What was also clear was that for it to be an effective contributor to the debate it needs a little reworking on how it tells its tale.