Monday, 20 August 2012

Beyond Hillsborough - Edinburgh Fringe review

Written by: Dombo (@DomOJFryer)

Where's Dom gone? 
The Quaker's Meeting House, Edinburgh
Was Dom fond? 

Simply utter the word 'Hillsborough' to many Liverpudlians, and it would send them to a darker place; and even if it doesn't, seemingly everyone has something to say. The disaster, which happened at an F.A cup semi final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs at Hillsborough, Sheffield on 15th April 1989 was nothing short of tragic, and has since provoked many talking points between the Police and the various charities set up in order to help the families of those involved. 

Clearly, Joanne Halliday and Layla Dowie thought the time for talking was... well now, actually; Beyond Hillsborough is an incredibly poignant piece of verbatim theatre. Using the words of those involved or related to the disaster, the two teachers from West Kirby Grammar School, near Liverpool, bring to our attentions the plight of living with the disaster. We can never fully understand, but this is as close as we'll get.

As the lights dim at the start of the piece, a video is projected onto the screen, alongside commentary from the game. From this point on, you think that you know what you're in for, but nothing can prepare you for the talent on show from teenagers no older than 18, maybe pushing 19 years old for some of them. From an outside eye it appears that every one of the large cast, all of who are fantastic, have done their research into both the event and the person they are representing. When the piece finished, the words they were using were not lost on themselves; they looked exhausted.

To put it bluntly, verbatim is sometimes rubbish. But directors and writers Halliday and Dowie have dealt with this piece so delicately and meticulously that it is impossible to ignore; a rare victory for this form of theatre. The visual and audio aids are simple and effective: just enough to give you an idea of the context. Beyond Hillsborough is virtually flawless in its execution and incredibly important. It isn't just that this could go far - it needs to.

This production has finished its run.

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