DramaEdinburgh Festival FringeEdinburgh Fringe 2017Fringe & Festivals

Box Clever – Summerhall, Edinburgh

Writer: Monsay Whitney

Director: Stef O’Driscoll

Reviewer: John Kennedy

Writer/protagonist, Monsay Whitney, is Marnie. In tandem with Avi Simmons as multi-flexible-role, foil punch-bag facilitator, she catalogues her descent in to the, “Chaos that follows us everywhere”.

Her catastrophic narrative is a monologue of mayhem punctuated with eviscerating emotional shrapnel. It’s a given that the toxic fallout of her appalling choice of male partners are self-inflicted disasters. That they poison every attempt she makes to drag herself and young daughter, Autumn, away from the consuming whirlpool of domestic abuse, procedural obsessed bureaucracy and Social Services meltdown is not. There’s no sub-text here, no bleeding-heart pleading, certainly no subtlety. Marnie’s is an urban articulation of feral rage. Only the name of her refuge hostel, Merrygold House, can surpass her gift for gallows understatement.

She-wolf rage becomes incandescent when suspicions arise that a clinger-on associate of a hostel resident has been sexually abusing her daughter. There’s little respite; the merciless intensity and compression of institutional, dehumanised lack of compassion reeks with injustice. There’s only so much they can do with the resources they’re left with.

The luxury of pathos is a subtlety beyond her ken – might as well prescribe a palliative lead-pipe lobotomy. Outrage becomes numbed – empathy cauterised. A play where suspension of reality makes a mockery of truth. Where the only cost-effective Benefit hand-out is when the disadvantaged are given enough interest-free loan rope to hang themselves. Whether Marnie can box cleverer than pugnacious sledgehammer punches adversity throws her way remains to be seen. The only unifying reason she is not alone in her situation is that thousands like her lead lives in survival-level parallel isolation. Marnie’s is an inconvenient grief. A statistic smothered in spread-sheet anonymity. Best bury the bad news and wrap it up in a pauper’s winding-sheet.

Perhaps when obsessional, goldfish bowl, humiliation porn, structured, corrupted-reality TV ceases to ridicule the naked and the vulnerable – and that’s just the viewers – a kinder way might be found.

Runs until August 2017 | Image: Contributed

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The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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