No Guts, No Heart, No Glory
Sandy's Boxing Gym
Not a punch is thrown in anger in the Common Wealth company's follow-up to Our Glass House, one of the sleeper hits of last year's Fringe. However, in its real-life show-and-tell played out by a determined quintet of young female Muslim boxers, this new piece's depiction of young women empowering themselves enough to find a voice beyond their backgrounds is inspirational.
Taking place in Sandy's Gym, housed in a community centre in Craigmillar, director Evie Manning and writer Aisha Zia have choreographed a criss-crossing confessional that moves from a training session with punchbag and skipping ropes to climbing in the ring and declaiming like champions. On one level, the young womens' concerns - about themselves, their families and the world that would rather define them in other ways - are the stuff of any teenage rites of passage. In the context of their race, religion and what must have been a huge set of decisions to jump in the ring, No Guts, No Heart, No Glory transcends that to become an irresistible thing about muscle, guts and the determination to stand up for who you are in an increasingly mad world.
Until August 25
The Trial of Jane Fonda
When movie starlet turned political activist Jane Fonda turned up in the Connecticut town of Waterbury in 1988 to film her new movie, Stanley and Iris, in a town with an especially high population of Vietnam war veterans, she was forced to face up to her past in a way she didn't expect. This is the backdrop for Terry Jastrow's new play, which imagines an off-limits event in which Fonda met the ex-soldiers boycotting her presence in town in a local church hall.
As a vehicle for another Hollywood icon, Anne Archer, Jastrow's production of her own script lines up the arguments that Fonda was a traitor who allowed herself to be filmed on a Vietnamese gun positioned to shoot down American forces. On one level, this is an entire period of American history on trial, in which a young, wealthy and often famous counter-cultural elite flirted with a radical chic that came back on them and sometimes bit them hard. As Fonda argues her case, however, Jastrow's at times overly sentimental premise suggests that Fonda might actually have stopped the war.
Whatever the truth of this, and while Archer is no Fonda, the archive footage - of Fonda, of soldiers in the field who committed war crimes, and of the politicians who sent them there - points up an at times fascinating insight into a vital era of late 20th-century history that went beyond the big screen.
Until August 24.
Six women step onstage in formal evening gowns and place their manuscripts on a series of lecterns in front of them. The formality of such an opening might suggest a choral recital of politesse and restraint. What follows over the next hour of Belgian company Ontroerend Goed's latest confessional dissection of human behaviour, however, is a provocative litany of self-determination and power, in which all the everyday abuses inflicted on women are thrown back in our faces in a strictly personal fashion.
This is no harangue, however. The performers strike a pose, each first-hand experience delivered with a raging calm.
The keening chorale that accompanies the hardcore porn being projected behind the performers ends up as the wittiest of soundtracks.
In form and delivery, Alexandra Devriendt's production resembles a spikier, less self-congratulatory Vagina Monologues that goes further, the performers looking the audience in the eye as they draw strength from their words.
It's an intimate aesthetic that Devriendt and Ontroerend Goed have applied elsewhere. Here, however, the elegant simplicity of its presentation becomes an unnerving but all too necessary show of strength.
Until August 24