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Festival Review: How Not to Drown ***

Michael Cox reviews 'an honourable production'.

How Not to Drown is a moving production that is extremely well-staged. A cast of five tell the story of Dritan Kastrati, whose father illegally sent him to Britain as a child to escape an uncertain future after the Kosovan War. Chronicling his childhood training of self-resilience, his trek to Britain and then his years spent in the care system, the play is loaded with potent moments beautifully staged and performed.

The ensemble work is excellent, taking a Brechtian approach of explaining things before performing them, with each of the five cast members playing our protagonist—including Kastrati himself. Each performer plays a multitude of characters, and together they create wonderful moments of poignancy.

However, as good as the production is, the script itself seems a little misguided—it is either too short or too long. There are passages that seem superfluous to the majority of the story, and there are gaping holes in the narrative, including an ending that doesn’t give any sense of a conclusion. More like a ‘Greatest Hits’ look at moments in Kastrati’s life, Drown is an honourable production that humanises the plight of the political refugee.

Part of Made in Scotland 2019.

Performs in repertory at the Traverse until August 25. Check the venue for specific times.

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