Writer: Nicola McCartney & Dritan Kastrati
Director & Choreographer: Neil Bettles
Design & Costume: Becky Minto
Lighting: Zoe Spurr
Composer & Sound Designer: Alexandra Faye Braithwaite
Co-choreography: Jonnie Riordan
Reviewer: Molly Knox
How Not To Drown at the Traverse Theatre is something not to shy away from at the The Fringe this year. With a set that immediately plunges the audience into the intimate bleakness of a dark abyss that captures the essence of the unknown, this play magnifies a first-hand account of a refugee’s experience, with passion enough to make hair stand on end. This real and raw re-telling of a young asylum seeker arriving in the UK is a credit to everybody involved in the production. In fact, what makes the piece so much more moving is the truth of the story for one of the performers, Dritan Kastrati, who the play was co-written by and about.
This work is a triumph from beginning to end; where there’s smooth character switching (an innovative and engaging element to the piece), there’s also Zoe Spurrs’ masterful lighting which create shadows of a man’s past. In terms of choreography, How Not To Drown grapples with gorgeous physicality that combines the raw brutality of life, with a smooth and effortless wave of calm that juxtaposes the plays’ constant undertones of tension.
In terms of acting, there is little to criticise. Despite getting off to a rocky start in terms of gaining a laugh from the audience, the humour improves considerably throughout the piece and has the audience on board by the end. The writing is impeccable, however, and the fearful hindsight into boyhood experiences are undeniably powerful. It’s clear, just from watching for two minutes, that there’s no weak link, as the performers, sound and visual elements all come together to create an emotive feeling of claustrophobia, tied in with valuable messages concerning identity and home.
How Not To Drown is a piece that pulls the audience headfirst into a sea of emotion, whilst drenching them in ideas and harsh reality. This is truly something not to be missed.
Runs until August 2019 | Image: Mihaela Bodlovic