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Festival Reviews: Summerhall & theSpaceUK

Ashling Findlay-Carroll reviews If there's not dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming, We Are Bronte and 5 out of 10 men.

If there's not dancing in the revolution, then I'm not coming ***

The lone female performer quickly wins the audience over, drawing us in with gentle comedy as she re-enacts various portrayals of women in the media. We quickly realise that she is wearing not only many layers of costume but almost every prop she requires throughout the show; gin & tonic, onions, party poppers all appear from where they have been stowed on her person.

The aforementioned comedy gives way to more grotesque images, but this gradual progression doesn't stop moments from slapping you square across the jaw, mostly due to the energy and commitment of the performer. Julia Croft is clearly angry, with good reason, and she is convincingly calling upon her audience to be as outraged as she is by the treatment of women not just by misogynist rap singers but by society every day.

The only misgiving is the end, which is somewhat unnecessary and feels a little 'done before'. This final moment detracts from the punch that the material has throughout. It doesn't, however, alter the fact that this is an argument both skilfully put together and well performed.

We Are Bronte ****

Wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, these two fools stumble their way through an exploration of the story of the Bronte family, failing delightfully at every turn.

The two performers create hilarious tension, as one stops to clarify with the audience whilst the other desperately attempts to be a serious actor. This is a display of expert clowning and is terrible in the best possible way. They use both set and props inventively and to great comic effect, and their parody of those many painful adaptations we’ve all endured is just so spot on that you cannot help but laugh out loud.

5 Out Of 10 Men ****

Dynamic ensemble work from a physically proficient cast who use the intimate performance space to its full advantage, looking into the eyes of the audience to powerful effect.

There are slick transitions as the performers take on the many roles in the life of Mike, our central character. They approach some challenging material with energy and don't hold back from uncomfortable moments, which have been delicately choreographed so that they don't feel gratuitous.

The piece does lose its way in the middle and we move away from Mike’s story to deliver the facts and statistics that have clearly been the catalyst for the work. Unfortunately the effect of this departure is to diminish our connection with the story, and they feel somewhat shoehorned in.

Despite this, what shines through is the commitment of the company to the theme of this piece, which is tackled with passion and sensitivity.

If there's not dancing in the revolution, then I'm not coming and We Are Bronte perform at Summerhall. 5 Out Of 10 Men performs at theSpaceUK. Check websites or programmes for further information.

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