Theatre review: I Am Faransis W.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe:

Summerhall (Venue 26)


To the live-sung soundtrack of Public Image Limited’s This is Not a Love Song, a game show begins – one which doubles as an interrogation, as a young carpenter’s son from Eskborg, Finland is questioned by two beautiful, laser-eyed young women. Their professional efficiency erodes the line between entertainer and agent of the state, as they drill into Faransis with increasing intensity as to his real country of origin and his affiliation with Islamic extremism. All are participating in a kind of obsidian vaudeville, highlighting the aspect of inquisition which must always echo performance, as the two questioners adopt theatrical personas to go about their business.

It’s a compelling idea for a play from writer/director Jari Juutinen and the sadsongskomplex:fi company, delivered in hallucinatory fashion, and occasionally tumbling into exploratory asides about the plight of refugees and the role of poverty in fostering extremism.

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A young woman caresses her machine gun and delivers a biting monologue, the design team’s impressive combination of illuminated, segmented video panels work well in creating a multimedia element, and the sonic design gives it a rich atmosphere aided by three strong performances, even though the Kafkaesque air masks a certain episodic aimlessness.

Until 27 August. Tomorrow 5:45pm.