THEATRE – Echoes – Holden Street – 4.5K

Echoes by Henry Naylor Image  (10)By Peter Maddern

The current refugee and Muslim debates seem to continue to dominate discourse amongst the self-appointed arbiters of what’s right. Their influence has filtered, not surprisingly, down into theatre with Echoes playwright Henry Taylor taking a novel but highly successful perspective on the latter topic at least.

His approach is to compare and contrast world views of two young women, idealists both but living 175 years apart. The contemporary is a London student jihadi (Filipa Branganca) and her predecessor is a Victorian woman (Felicity Houlbrooke) who heads off to India to be a bride of an English officer who is helping to set up the Empire. Through intercut monologues we confront the brutal reality of their ideals and aspirations, particularly the wanton and cowardly abuse – physical and emotional – of the young women they portray at the hands of those in control.

Rather than being pushed one way or the other to defend one belief system over the other, the audience gets to feel the truth in the old adage that history is destined to repeat itself; rival ‘civilizations’ do not exist to be tamed by outsiders and the indignities of one human on another in the name of some higher force go on unabated.

Both women give compelling performances; their control of nuance and inflection, both moving and powerful as well as a delight to witness. One wished they would have continued to entertain us for longer.

Sure to be a Fringe 2016 theatre highlight.

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

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