VALIANT - Edfringe Review

“The metal was gliding over my head. I’ve always tried to pinpoint the moment everything took on that air of terrible unreality. By the time my head was shaved, nothing seemed real anymore” Sarah Fabri, talking of Auschwitz

Lanna Joffrey, winner of the New York International Fringe Festival Excellence in Performance Award, has written a celebration of feminine Resistance. Her play, VALIANT, adapted from Sally Hayton-Keeva’s, 'Valiant Women in War and Exile', shockingly transports you to a world of valiant women, the often silent witnesses of massacre, racism and genocide, the mothers and sisters of warriors but rarely given a platform to voice their own perspective of war. War has and will continue to shape our understanding of evolution and geographical boundaries since the beginning of mankind.

Over a decade ago Hayton-Keeva began interviewing women all over the world about their experiences of war. Their words, written as spoken give us an insight into the wonders of the female psyche be it as trained snipers with machine guns at their disposal, exterminating the enemy, or actively passive onlookers in the Irish conflict, or mothers of victims in the Cambodian struggle or as a Jewish girl awaiting her fate at the gates of Auschwitz.

The play consists simply of spoken transcripts of the women’s accounts. The momentum of the plot is the women’s soul, their heartbeat as it reverberates with the drums of battle, it is that very actionable passivity that expands simple verbatim accounts into an epic spanning more than 70 years.

Directed by Alexandra Renzetti, the performance is sharp, brutally accurate with a quickness and velocity that leaves no gap in your attention or the depth of the women’s pain. Lanna Joffrey, Eimear O'Riordan, Catherine Rees and Diana Bermudez all give all of themselves to the women’s accounts without the aid of technical trickery or complex sound design.

The relevance of the piece is overpowering: 300 wars have been fought since the end of WWII. Without women’s knowledge we are without a compass in our understanding of the perennial conflict between “them” and “us”.

I’ll end my review with Sally Hayton-Keeva’s words: War is timeless and it may be something that is rooted in us, in what it is to be a human being. If that is so, and if we are to survive it is important to investigate the parts played by women in war. It is.

You must watch VALIANT.

(c) Effie Samara 2015
Edinburgh Aug 5-31

Eimear O'Riordan
Catherine Rees
Diana Bermudez
Lanna Joffrey

Producer: Hannah Johnson (Handan Productions ltd)
Director: Alexandra Renzetti
Assistant producer: Kati Donlon
Writer: Lanna Joffrey

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