Edinburgh – Us/Them

Brussels based company BRONKS bring Us/Them to Summerhall Main Hall, directed by Carly Wijs and performed by Gytha Parmentier and Roman Van Houtven.

In September 2004, during a school hostage drama in Beslan, the greatest of evils (terrorists) chose the greatest good (a group of children) as their victim. Us/Them is not a straightforward account of this terrible drama, but is about the entirely individual way children cope with extreme situations.

This performance finds a beautiful place, just under the adult reality where innocence still exists, and yet at all times we are aware of the true horror that is unfolding.  In the young  world, violence can always be defeated, truths are based around facts taught by the school and propaganda from the media, and there should always be a happy ending.  Someone will always come to the rescue.  Except they don’t, and it is fascinating to see how the victims, children, rationalise this.

For the first five minutes the school is drawn in chalk on the floor and the local life vividly drawn through stories and anecdotes that form the basis of the rest of the story.  Strong threads run all the way through.  The male/female hierarchy and role separation is particularly fascinating.  The stage continues to be filled by string and balloons to represent the tripwires and bombs, as the performers describe how they, as the children, feel about the situation.  The description of how the terrorists keep swapping positions on the bomb trigger is poignant.

A beautifully put together performance, that is deeply moving.  One of the best shows on the Fringe this year.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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