Fringe theatre reviews: Mimi's Suitcase | The Revolution Of Evelyn Serrano | KlaxAlterian Sequester

Mimi's Suitcase by Ana BayatMimi's Suitcase by Ana Bayat
Mimi's Suitcase by Ana Bayat
The news from Afghanistan has given a grim edge of topicality to Mimi's Suitcase (****). Although this autobiographical solo show is not about the same country, its vision of life under Ayatollah Khomeini and his Revolutionary Guards in 1980s Iran has chilling echoes of the oppression, especially towards women, enacted by the Taliban.

Thanks to the internet, Ana Bayat's show, which she has been touring since 2015, is available as part of the online Edinburgh Fringe and, once you've compensated for the larger-than-life stage performance, it gives a lively multi-lingual account of a troubled political moment.It wasn't always thus. Bayat's family had emigrated from Iran to Spain in the 1970s during the regime of the last Shah, an era of relative liberalism and westernisation. Come the revolution, the rich relative who had been subsidising their lifestyle could no longer guarantee keeping them afloat and they were compelled to return to Tehran.For the teenage Bayat, this led to a confusing cocktail of influences. There was the Spanish she spoke to her friends, the English sung in her favourite pop songs and now the Persian she would associate with Khomeini, whose constraints were like something out of The Handmaid's Tale.Duly, she flits from language to language, including forays into French and valiant attempts to imitate the accents she hears as an acting student in London. In this way, she builds a sense of the interconnectedness of the modern world, making the Middle East less remote than we might like to think. The show is at its most urgent in the Iranian scenes and loses some bite once she breaks free, but it's a dynamic performance, full of storytelling energy.Change is also in the air in The Revolution Of Evelyn Serrano (****), this time on the streets of late 1960s New York and Harlem's El Barrio. This is the setting of the young adult novel by Sonia Manzano, the story of the 14-year-old Rosa Maria (an excellent Carolina Campos) who, in a small act of defiance, changes her name to Evelyn just as things are kicking off politically.You can have your pick of grievances: anti-Spanish bias in the education system, poisonings from lead paint, slum housing, poor healthcare, inadequate rubbish collections… That's before we get on to civil rights. No wonder the Puerto Rican community looks benignly on the Young Lords and their occupation of the First Spanish United Methodist Church in December 1969. It's a particular shame this show by the Los Rivax Project couldn't be seen live in Edinburgh, because it would go down a treat with its skittering Latin rhythms and gorgeous harmonies (clunky lyrics aside).For a more solitary experience, KlaxAlterian Sequester (****) is part of a strand of online theatre performances that wouldn’t have happened without the lockdown. With headphones and mobile phone, you retreat to your darkened bedroom where you receive a series of frenzied messages from the year 2083, all crackles, strange music and interruptions. They have apparently been sent by an underground resistance movement but are possibly the work of the alien KlaxAlterian species.Behind the sci-fi playfulness, the show by Ben Beckley and Asa Wember of New York's Dutch Kills Theater Company asks you to question the domestic surrounds you take for granted. Viewed by an alien lifeform, the shape of water, the transparency of glass and the activities of the human bathroom would be fascinating. And so, for a brief spell, do they become for us. Like last year's Deliverance by Scotland's Brite Theatre, it turns you inward and makes the familiar strange.Mimi's Suitcase, Assembly Showcatcher (online); The Revolution Of Evelyn Serrano, Fringe Player – Fringe Online; KlaxAlterian Sequester, Assembly Showcatcher (online).

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