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Festival Review: The Afflicted ****

Michael Cox reviews 'a fulfilling theatrical journey' into an unsolved mystery.

We live in an era of instant celebrity: things become popular online for a few fleeting moments only to fade from memory. Eight years ago, a group of teenage girls in a small industrial town in New York state took to odd fits of fainting, tics and shaking. For a moment, these mysterious actions captivated the world, only to fade from memory. What happened to the girls? Were they cured? Was it real?

The Afflicted is a theatrical investigation of those events. Part documentary, part investigation, the production takes a stylised approach with its cast of four. Told through a collection of videos, physical movement and text, the production is a hypnotic, almost dream-like look at a haunted Americana that feels diseased.

Directors Finn Den Hertog and Vicki Manderson have created a mesmerising production. Mysterious, moving and creepy, the production is Lynchian with its ambiguous feelings of dread and use of jazz that both underscores and comments on the events. The production might end with more questions than answers, but it is a fulfilling theatrical journey that impresses as much as it moves.

The Afflicted performs at 1930 at Summerhall until August 25th.

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