Theatre in Wales

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Dirty Protest Does It

At Dirty Protest

Dirty Protest “Double Drop” , MultiStory, Edinburgh , August 26, 2021
At Dirty Protest by Dirty Protest “Double Drop” Schrödinger's cat is the quantum concept whereby an object is proposed to be in two conditions simultaneously, but which are mutually exclusive.

So too society has gone into a kind of Schrödinger's cat syndrome with the pandemic; we are both in and out of disease mode. For one kind of condition check, for instance, a weekend night at Metros in Cardiff's Bakers Row.

The performing arts are in a strange lurching place. In London's Gillian Lynne theatre a company of 34 is performing to audiences of 1300.

Just a couple of miles away the redoubtable Paines Plough is cancelling performances in its pop-up venue, the Roundabout, due to infection-enforced company absences.

There was no Edinburgh Fringe or Festival in 2020 in line with the cancellation of everything else. In 2021 it was a muted, diminished Fringe but it was there and a defiant company of Wales got there.

Crisis is ever a great revealer; so a medal for valour and service to theatre goes to Dirty Protest.

Lisa Jên Brown was author and half the cast for “Double Drop” which played 6th - 13th August at MultiStory. There is not a public space in Edinburgh that does not offer scope for performance. Dirty Protest were in the Castle Terrace car park, just in front of Edinburgh Castle.

Dirty Protest has form at the Fringe- see below 15th August 2018 and 14th August 2017. Audiences are primed by expectation and those who were there for 2021 liked what they saw.

Fergus Morgan was there for the Stage August 10th commenting that the space “feels more akin to an arena at a musical festival than a theatre venue.”

“Appropriately enough, as it turns out, for Lisa Jên Brown’s 1990s-set two-hander, which focuses on a young girl, Esmi, torn between her Welsh roots and her love of ecstasy-fuelled rave culture. It all comes to a head one Eisteddfod, when Esmi’s singing talent earns her the honour of joining an august organisation of druids, but she would rather be popping pills on the dance-floor.

“The two worlds – old and new, tradition and trance, bards and beats – come crashing together hilariously over an energetic, exuberant hour, set to original music by 9Bach. Mirain Haf Roberts gives a tremendous, tub-thumping central performance, as does Brown herself, multi-rolling as everyone from Esmi’s anxious mother to the Opium-addled Eisteddfod founder Iolo Morganwg. Exactly the sort of show that would usually have the Roundabout hopping every evening.”

The Violet Curtain reported August 14th:

“The venue was unassumingly epic: nestled on the roof of a car park with an unmatched view of Edinburgh castle directly behind, it was as Fringe as it gets. This show had an amazing intention and was certainly a roller-coaster...the crazy and enthralling world of Esme and her pals...incredibly entertaining...would be a joy to see again.”

The Wee Review was there 14th August:

“This lively play from Dirty Protest Theatre is, in two very different ways, about transcendence and finding your place in the world. “Double Drop” is an acidic dive into belonging and growing up. In the early stages the story can seem a little disorientating, but once the flow settles in you are rewarded with a story that balances a specific time and place with the universal need to be part of something bigger than yourself.

“Esmi loves nothing more than illegal raving in the mid-90s with her best friends and losing herself in this modern, pulsating trend. A gifted Welsh-language singer, she is also in line to become an honorary druid – much to her mother’s delight. It all comes to a head at the National Eisteddfod, which itself happens to include a rave.

“You admittedly spend a lot of the show waiting for the first hint of a Prodigy song, but there is far more to Double Drop than a banging soundtrack. It is a nuanced, entertaining look at how opposing opposites aren’t actually as opposing as your rebellious teenage way of thinking might admit. The emotional crescendo of Double Drop rests on the especially satisfying realisation that different parts of your life don’t necessarily have to be at loggerheads.

“Affecting, fast and toying with a feeling most of us have had at some point in our lives, Double Drop is a touching reminder of what it is like to feel lost in a world with more than one open door.”

Footnote: the Fringe Brand was extended to material made only for watching at home.

The purgatory of the pandemic robbed us of our social existence. To be alone at home with a television is everything we yearn to escape from. Television theatre may be for some, although I suspect the box office revenues are modest. Whatever, it is not for me.

Excerpts cited, with thanks, from:

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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