The Djinns of Eidgah and A Midsummer Nights DROLL
With the conflict in Kashmir hitting the headlines again in the past week, the adaptation of Abhishek Majumdarâ€™s play is particularly timely.
The Djinns of Eidgah follows two plots in tandem: teenagers Bilal and Khaled dreaming of being football stars amid the curfews and tense military presence in Kashmir, and psychiatrist Dr. Baig struggling to overcome bereavement while treating Bilalâ€™s traumatised sibling Ashrafi.
The unsettling scene is set as soon as you set foot in the room, as armed guards ask for ID and order you to your seat. Staging is spartan, with a few crates and graffiti-daubed banners draped over the background. Lighting is used to great effect, especially during a shock discovery post-curfew, and when the djinns appear. These spirits from Islamic mythology are woven throughout, lending a mythical, philosophical edge to the white-hot anger of two young adults vulnerable to the grand promises of mujahideen.
Suchitra Sebastian gives a standout performance as Dr. Baig, compassionate yet fierce. Khaled, played by Isambard Dexter, had somewhat verbose monologues at times but was a fine foil to Imane Bou-Sabounâ€™s Bilal. When the play hurtles towards its climax, lives are shattered beyond repair. Those of a sensitive disposition should be warned that the subject matter is necessarily grim, but it makes for taut, compelling viewing.
A powerful, moving piece of theatre thatâ€™s essential for anyone wishing to know more about the conflict and raise awareness. Bread, the company behind The Djinns, has provided further information on the situation via Al-Jazeera.
The Djinns of Eidgah, Sweet Grassmarket, 14-18 Aug, 16:15
If, like me, youâ€™ve seen countless performances of certain Shakespeare plays, itâ€™s always refreshing to find a new take on the subject matter. With DROLL, The Owle Schreame have dipped into a tradition dating back over 300 years to the Puritan theatre ban in England.
Risking prison, ordinary people would perform adapted versions of plays in bars, the street, and even private houses. These took one characterâ€™s plot as the focus, in this case Bottomâ€™s scenes for Bottom The Weaver. The results are anarchic, unpredictable, and far more fun than a serious rendition of the text.
Brice Stratford is ebullient as Bottom/Pyramus, and James Carney exudes a Rik Mayall-esque madness as Quince, Oberon and several other characters. (Doubling up was commonplace in drolls.) The costumes and props are charmingly Blue Peter in construction; I loved the trio of fairies made from butternut squashes and wooden spoons, which would go down a storm with children.
Some audience participation should be expected; percussion instruments are strewn over the seats for the songs, which range from Shakespeare-era to bawdy 18th-century ditties about a ladyâ€™s intimate parts. The cast also sat among us, cheering and heckling appropriately. Fluffed lines, inside-out cloaks, and falling props were brushed off with improvised humour.
Drolls, Brice told us, informed everything from vaudeville and music hall to alternative and stand-up comedy. Their importance was dismissed by theatre snobs; more fool them. This was a fine morningâ€™s entertainment.
A Midsummer Nightâ€™s DROLL, Gilded Balloon Billiard Room, 15-26 Aug, 10:45
Laura is a fiction/creative non-fiction writer based in Edinburgh. Their work has been published by Scottish Book Trust, Monstrous Regiment and the Dangerous Women project.
Twitter: @uisgebeatha, Instagram: @lauraclayauthor