Personal stories – of exile, homelessness, illness and existential terror – jostle for hearts and minds with farts and live bread-baking
It will come as no great shock that much of the Edinburgh fringe is taken up with people talking about themselves, whether in standup or theatre, musicals, cabaret or even magic shows, a surprising conduit for narcissism. Occasionally this can feel like being trapped in a small corner of the pub with the resident barfly, which, let’s face it, is not so far from what it actually is. But there is plenty of raw truth-telling too, that swerves self-indulgence in favour of finding humanity and common ground.
Nicola McCartney and Dritan Kastrati’s haunting How Not to Drown (Traverse) dramatises Kastrati’s own perilous journey to the UK from Albania when he was just 11 years old. While much of the early action focuses on the dangers of the route itself, the darkness of silent vans and the overstuffed boats, it is what happens next that lingers long after the play is over. Staged sparsely, with five performers – including Kastrati himself – deftly taking on around 50 roles, manoeuvring their bodies around a shifting wooden platform, its true power is in pulling apart the care system, and what care actually means when it comes without love.