Fierce - Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK)
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Greenside @ Infirmary Street - Olive Studio
12th August - 1 hour
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Gatepost Theatre Company
Warnings and additional info: None
- Although taking a little too much inspiration from SIX, there is space to work this into its own unique story -
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is known for making some of the biggest shows in theatre, The Play That Goes Wrong, Fleabag and SIX are the most recent to come to mind. It’s also a space to test and try new ideas and even create projects inspired by those that came before it. With so much content, artists fall in danger of taking too much from those that come before it, unfortunately Fierce fell into this trap.
Beginning with Little Mix’s ‘Salute’, Fierce boldly introduces seven women from history with the plans of smashing the patriarchy. Our seven (definitely not six as they take the time to mention) women include names such as Wollstonecraft, Ginsburg, Anning, Kahlo, O’Malley, King and Lovelace. Whereas Henry VIII’s six wives had an easier mnemonic device to remember their names by, you’ll surely recognise names such as Frida Kahlo and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but others such as Grace O'Malley and Mary Anning will probably leave you scratching your head. Therefore, it would have served a great purpose for the writers to introduce these women immediately from the beginning instead of before, or in some cases the middle, of their songs.
One choice in particular which didn’t sit right with me was the use of a darker makeup for Frida Kahlo with an additional South American accent. Surely there were other powerful women in history to choose from instead of resorting to this style of appropriation?
The creators of Fierce have taken their own swing at the patriarchy, and indeed there are some powerful messages to be held here from these seven women of history. What held them back? Was it men in particular? Their own society or maybe their sexuality? For some of these women it was one or more of these things. By the end of the show, the question about the patriarchy is tied nicely into a bow, and raised conversational themes akin to Barbie. The patriarchy affects everyone, in a dichotomous way.
Throughout, each woman’s story is told through using famous female artists. Whilst recognising these songs indeed hold their own notions of empowerment within them, the songs didn’t exactly resonate the story the writers wanted to tell about these women and would have been served better by writing something original. The additional choreography of some numbers felt too repetitive and literal for it to be wholly captivating. Others were insightfully crafted and created the energy symbolic of the character’s story.
Whilst creating something original is difficult and works have and always will be inspired by those before them, it’s ethically and artistically fruitful to take the hard path. With dedicated performances by all involved, there is life in this SIX-inspired production. After a rethink of some characters or casting, and new original works added, it would be great to see Fierce return new and improved.
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