Theatre review: Shit, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Shit comes to Edinburgh with blisteringly brilliant reviews from Australia, and fresh from the Venice Theatre Biennale.

Aportrait of damaged, toughened, young women
Aportrait of damaged, toughened, young women

Shit, Summerhall (Venue 25) * * * *

It opens with the spotlight on the toughest-looking blonde you’ve ever encountered, Billy (Nicci Wilks) with matted hair and a mouth to match. Bobby (Sarah Ward) and Sam (Peta Brady) are three hard girls with hard lives and hard language, an unending slur of obscenities to match the show’s title (“I’m not a slut, you slut”).

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They’ve barely survived foster care, now they’re behind somebody’s bars, for a crime whose details are only unfolding. They evilly practise fake crying, revelling in cynicism, and how to a speak a sentence without fuck, and fail. They quarrel over whether they’ve ever loved their mothers, or found kindness in people.

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The actor Sarah Ward came to the Fringe in 2018 as larger, and bluer-than-life cabaret personality, Yana Alana. She soon establishes a strong presence in this piece as the measured, watchful, unflinching Bobby, in contrast to the volatile Billy. Meanwhile Sam’s dreams of a house, or a dog - “I’m not needy, I just want a few things” - are heard out to jeering derision.

The writer/director team of Patricia Cornelius and Susie Dee were the first Australian artists invited to the Venice festival. Their portrait of damaged, toughened, young women who spit and swear and challenge prejudices was first presented in Melbourne in 2015, and went on to collect a series of nominations and awards in Australia.

Until 25 August.