Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Mwathirika, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock.
Dedicated in opening supertitles to the victims of Indonesia’s September 1965 tragedy and to all victims of political violence, this adult puppet theatre show from Paper Moon Puppet Theatre is a gently-harrowing experience and a dark but very human testimony to the effects of war and totalitarianism on families, and particularly on children.
Not such a visible struggle in the West, the Indonesian uprising of 1965 failed and resulted in brutal anti-Communist purges being carried out over the next year, with estimates half a million were killed and a third of the families in the country affected.
In Mwathirika, the family in question become a target simply because someone paints an accusatory red triangle on their door. The staging is beautiful, with a village of bright fabric houses, populated by adorable little puppet families operated manually by grey-clad handlers.
These characters’ expressivity is incredibly realistic, and we feel close to them after watching children play and fathers comfort; until the mark appears on their door and father is taken away by a brusque armed soldier. Not so much a narrative as a sequence of events all leading in a predictably tragic direction, this high-quality piece drags us along in a poignant slipstream.
C (Venue 34) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 27 August 2015
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