If you are interested in the grotesque and debauched nature of tax avoidance, then Caroline Horton’s show Islands will be high on your list of performances to see during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. However, if you interested in nostalgic romantic comedy theatre, then Caroline’s other show You’re Not Like the Other Girls, Chrissy will be a must see. We speak to Caroline to get a background into Islands and her imaginative approach to theatre making.
Your new show Islands is on at Summerhall during the Fringe. Can we expect a bright and summery drama?
Not exactly – it’s a foul, grotesque show about tax avoidance or, if you like, who’s got all the cherries? It’s transposed to “Haven” where a little trinity of gods rule from their position floating high above Shitworld.
You developed Islands with economic advisers. Did this assistance change your opinion on tax havens, or did it confirm what you already expected?
It deepened my horror I suppose – and John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network worked with us all the way through the process, feeding back to us on the world we were building. Islands isn’t an educational or even documentary piece – you’re unlikely to come away feeling informed about tax injustice – rather what is does is teach us to hate it and rail against it more profoundly. It’s about provoking disgust and horror about this ever so accepted, ever so establishment practice.
The trailer of Islands is on the Summerhall website and really conveys the visual nature of the performance. Did you spend a lot of time devising how the characters will look?
Definitely. We started using costume elements from the word go and worked very closely throughout the whole process with Oli Townsend the designer.
You also wrote the story to Islands. Did you have the script fully developed before you thought about the visual imagery, or was the story and visual style of Islands developed simultaneously?
They came together. Then I drafted a script before the main rehearsal process began, after a week of improvisation as a company.
Your previous show Mess was an honest, personal, but also funny performance. How important is it to you to make the audience laugh when tackling serious subjects?
It’s important to me – but I think the sort of laughs you get in Islands feel very different to Mess. Islands is much much darker.
You will have an incredibility busy Fringe, as your other show You’re Not Like the Other Girls, Chrissy is on at the Pleasance Courtyard. How excited are you at revisiting this performance?
I am excited that Chrissy will be on again – and in its original venue – the Attic. It’ll be hugely nostalgic I think. I imagine it’ll also be quite strange doing the charming rom-com about my grandmother in the morning and then a few hours later diving into the foul world of Islands across town. We’re in part remounting it to help towards the costs of bringing something bigger (Islands) to the Fringe but it’ll be a real pleasure to do the show again.
As well as performing and writing, delivering workshops is a major part of your practice. How important is to you to support emerging artists?
I really love mentoring companies and artists – I think I get easily as much out of it as they do. It feels great to return some of the sort of guidance I had from people when I was starting out.
Are there any other shows you are looking to catch while you are in Edinburgh?
Definitely – though I’m not up for nearly as long as I’d like because we’re just doing Islands as part of the British Council Showcase for the final week (and Chrissy also just for that week 22-29 Aug). I want to see Bryony Kimming’s latest show and anything/everything Daniel Kitson is doing. I’ll also definitely go and see KILN’s The Furies again.