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Edinburgh Fringe 2019 review: Birth | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 review: Birth

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 review: Birth

Ravishing physical theatre on the beginnings of life from Theatre Re

Eygló Belafonte: a strongly defined performance as Birth's central protagonistPamela Raith Photography

Physical theatre company Theatre Re are virtually Fringe royalty these days, with a several-year history of fine shows under their belts, plus success internationally and at the London Mime Festival. And judging by their assured and richly resonant Birth this year, they’re just getting better and better – their productions more ambitious, more accomplished and with greater thematic depth.

Following last year’s tearjerking take on dementia, The Nature of Forgetting, this year’s offering tackles – well, nothing less than human life itself. Birth follows three generations of women in the same family through pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing, interweaving their stories of fear and loss, love and hope, the mundane and the universal.

It’s an astonishingly adept work, almost entirely wordless but ringingly clear in its storytelling, and leaping back and forth through time to draw parallels and contrasts between its protagonists’ stories. Eygló Belafonte makes a strongly defined Emily, with Vyte Garriga and Claudia Marciano equally vivid as her mother and grandmother, each facing their own individual problems. Director Guillaume Pigé’s brisk, fluid production makes magical use of a stage-size sheet, and balances near constant movement with impeccable elegance – with so much going on, it’s a wonder that there’s so seldom a step, glance or prop out of place. Alex Judd’s elaborate musical score, which he plays live on multiple instruments, channels Nyman and Glass along with tender harmonies and catchy tunes as befits the subject matter.

Birth is a ravishingly beautiful, spellbinding piece of work, performed with panache and utter conviction. And it’s a joy to experience a show seen so firmly from the perspectives of women of different ages, without that ever feeling foregrounded or self-conscious. It’s a bittersweet joy from start to finish.

  • Birth at the Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August

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A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
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Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
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