Broken Windows at the Pleasance Courtyard.
Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
So here we were – the final day of 2015 Edinburgh Fringe and Piu’s last performance of their show which they were still keen to have reviewed. We were welcomed into the Bunker and invited to join in singing ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ by Caitlin Ince, the writer of the piece. We learnt early on that we were singing her favourite Karaoke turn.
The premise for the show was taken from a book Ince read explaining a theory of broken windows – if one set of broken windows is left unrepaired, more will appear until broken windows become the norm. In the context of feminism, the contention is that the more it’s seen that women are ‘objectified’, the less remarkable it becomes. As a young woman in her mid-twenties, Ince set out to listen to the stories of teenagers from today’s socially networked world and to assess if these pressures were greater than those for herself a decade earlier.
As the plot unfolded, we saw her interview four young women across the country. A choice had been made to have Ince play these interviewees, and all other roles –including Ince herself – were played by one or other of the males sharing the stage. Some might say this was a rather ironic line to take, given the central focus of gender bias, but men can be feminists too!
The way the interviews were conveyed highlighted similarities through the differences: a talented young footballer; an aspiring girl from a deprived background; the over-confident would-be writer; the shy girl known as ‘the nun’ amongst her friends, and the youngest – a non-conformist who observed life in all its dark and light.
In its structure, the piece was a good showcase for Ince’s talent in conveying character very effectively, but needed more of a through-line and genuine connection between the music and the lyrics to elevate the idea to a dramatically compelling work.
The final scene, centring around the birth of a new little niece for Ince, did provoke a genuine blend of fear and hope for the future she would grow up in.
There is great intelligence and talent here and it will be interesting to see where this fledgling company goes next.