Peppered across the North Sea, giant metal birds stretch towards the sky and drill into the seabed below, hunting for life-giving oils and gasses. Along their wide bellies, men work day and night to keep them moving in dangerous, dirty conditions. The money’s good, and the work is plentiful.
Human instinct to categorise and label everything and everyone extends to drawing boundaries and borders around bits of land, dividing the world up into distinct nations with names and cultural features. They’re arbitrary really, and Daniel Bye channels obscure, near-mythical performance artist Edward Shorter to challenge them.
Meow Meow’s return to Edinburgh (now part of the International Festival, dontcha know!) is as spangly, feisty and marvellous as anyone might expect. This time she’s taking on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. And please, nobody mention the Jamaican crab.
How do I, a white woman from the world’s wealthiest country, voluntarily living in the world’s fifth wealthiest country, who is educated and working in the arts, evaluate a show about a black British woman’s experience of travelling slave trade routes?
‘The revolution is childcare!’ proclaims Busty Beatz from the top of her honeycomb mountain. The revolution also honours people from First Nations around the world, respects women of colour and escapes the constraints of imperialism. It’s owning your body, your sexuality and your race. It is Hot Brown Honey, the radical feminist cabaret from Australian women of colour.
Two men glide around the floor on small wheeled platforms. Like children, belly down on skateboards, they relish the speed and inability to control their paths. There’s a sense of freedom and joy in their movements, but collisions soon turn happiness into hostility. The fights increase in aggression, and the audience is made complicit. No one is innocent here.
Is there a style of comedy that Steen Raskopoulos hasn’t mastered? Having found the Australian comedian as half of improvisation duo The Bear Pack, I knew how quick witted he is, and how absurd some of his characters are but it turns out he can throw all these skills together and create side-splitting sketches too.
Sonic was always my go to when playing Sega, but Fiona Sagar has got a slightly different cast of characters to choose from in her show Sagar Mega Drive.
They come fast and furiously, Sagar throwing on costumes in seconds to squeeze all six of them in within her hour. There doesn’t appear to be any link between them, ranging from an Australian nursery teacher to a chihuahua. Although they all fit within the premise of being from Sega, some sort of connection would have helped shape the piece. There’s a lot of interaction in the show, and Sagar creates a great rapport with her audience throughout. This People are so open to coming on stage with her, and everyone gives it their all rather than having awkward silences.
In a festival that worships the new and the innovative, Shakespeare adaptations are surprisingly ten a penny at the fringe. Many are school groups, though there are some from professional companies in the mix. These are often adaptations or new work inspired by Shakespeare’s stories, characters or themes. Though more likely to be of higher quality, theatremakers often struggle to find a balance between innovation and the original source material.
Rebecca Atkinson-Lord speaks with an accent that she stole. Her family all have Wolverhampton accents, but her parents’ decision to send to private school meant that she adopted a voice that endowed her with a social status above the rest of her family. It allowed her to ‘pass’ as part of the elite and has benefited her career, her relationships and numerous other areas of her life.
Her reflection on her voice and tribute to the rich history of the West Midlands and Black Country is a moving acknowledgement of the deep-seated bias and associations between accent and social class in Britain. Though not confrontational, it asks the audience to reflect on their own attitudes towards people and the way they speak.