Hand Made in China: Moons, Migration and Messages
Edinburgh Festivals

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre):  Hand Made in China: Moons, Migration and Messages at Summerhall (Venue 26). Reviewed by Sally Stott

Where does the jacket I’m wearing today come from? China, I discover. Why am I checking? Because I’ve never been so pertinently made to think about the origin of my clothes than by this intimate show for one or two people, which takes place in a rickshaw.

After drinking a cup of Chinese tea, I choose an object from a basket – a scrap of denim jeans – which dictates which 15-minute performance I am going to see.

Warmly delivered by Dong Fen and Jin Lian, and translated by Tao Yang Yang, it is a conversation between two women working in a factory making the jeans I am holding a patch of.

Like all of the stories (and just a few of the hundreds created are on offer here) it is based upon interviews that the company, Hua Dan, carried out with working-class Chinese women – just a few of the millions that we rarely hear from in the West.

The two workers speculate about who the people they’re making these jeans for might be, as I – one of them – sits watching. Why are we so tall, they ask? And, most moving of all: do we spend all of our days working in a factory too?

With the performers and the majority of the company coming from the world the plays describe, it’s a humbling experience to admit that, no, I don’t.

In a production that makes the consequences of globalisation personal, it’s impressively powerful stuff.

A work that is continually being developed, it could perhaps evolve into something bigger over time.

But it is currently a simple but highly-effective look at inequality from the perspective of people who are rarely given the chance to address us, the winners of life’s financial lottery, as directly as this.

Handmade in China is at Summerhall, more info here

Originally published in The Scotsman

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