Theatre review: SOLD, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

This co-production between Kuumba Nia Arts, Unlock the Chains Collective and Oxford Playhouse resurrects the story of the abolitionist Mary Prince, whose book, The History of Mary Prince, was the first autobiography of a black woman published in Britain and a driver of the anti-slavery movement in the 1830s.

SOLD, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

SOLD, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh * * *

Writer Amantha Edmead plays Mary – and virtually every other character in her harrowing story. Born into slavery in Bermuda and sold on repeatedly throughout her life, she was treated as plaything, workhorse and sexual object by her owners. Edmead deftly switches between roles, bringing empathy and energy to the performance as much as fear and loathing.

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But it is the sound of the production which makes a mark, for better or worse. SOLD is physically as well as emotionally painful to listen to – the beat of the djembe drum played by Angie Amra Anderson is unforgivingly loud in such a small space but that is nothing compared to the impressionistic depiction of the abuses and degradation to which Prince was subjected.

Having played a key role in the abolition of slavery, Prince then disappears from the record but the final moments of SOLD place her book on a par with the life stories of legendary historical figures.

Until 25 August