Theatre review: When We Ran

When We Ran (Pleasance)
When We Ran (Pleasance)
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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Iris and Rosa have lived all their lives in the commune of Ela. Rural and entirely insular, it’s an idyllic place to be a child, but as the girls grow into adolescents, they become aware of another side to the story: long hours of manual labour; rules, curfews and inspections.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

****

When Iris becomes ill and needs medical help, they realise they need to make a break with Ela and head into the outside world.

So begins an adventure. The sisters are ill-prepared for life in “the out”, but find enough kindness to help them along the way, not least from Cyla, the story’s narrator. Rosa is wide-eyed and hungry for new experiences, but Iris harks back to their former life. When friends from their old life catch up with them, they have to make a choice.

Created by Patch of Blue, the makers of We Live By The Sea on last year’s Fringe, When We Ran is a charming, whimsical piece of theatre with big themes, accompanied throughout by folksy music played live on stage. Members of the company, working with their resident composers, the Mason Brothers, have written beautiful songs to accompany the action.

The show could do with a bit more room to breathe - there is a feeling that the actors are always having to find ways to manoeuvre around the instruments, and more time, too, to establish relationships and explore themes. It’s a big story to tell in an hour, and some of the plot details get a little lost or muddled.

But the atmosphere is captivating. Set somewhere in North America, though it isn’t clear where or when, it evokes a powerful sense of what it means to discover a world full of danger and wonder, far beyond anything you thought you knew.