Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Ashes Afar, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett.
A woman’s loss of memory provides the dramatic frame for this bleakly funny, fragmented drama about a Romanian-Irish couple struggling to make ends meet after moving to England.
When Áine inexplicably blanks out the past six years of her life, her partner Mihail attempts to reconstruct the course of their relationship through a series of games and role-plays – conjuring their touching attempts to break through a language barrier when he first came over to fix her toilet, before taking her through the fracturing mistrust that builds between them under financial strains and homesickness.
There’s an aching sense of disconnection and isolation woven through Andrea Bortun’s play, as misunderstandings and disagreements stem off into different narrative possibilities of what could have happened between the pair – each underscored by a note of cultural displacement and financial frustration. There’s also a lot of humour, and Crissy O’Donovan is particularly adept at bringing comic timing to Áine’s emotional distress.
A few heavy-handed plot twists break the subtlety of this compellingly fraught piece near the end but the strong and human performances of both actors will keep audiences invested as the couple stagger forwards from their hopeful beginnings to the grim present day.
Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236) until 29 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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