A play in three parts, Heather explores the journey of a children’s author while both challenging stereotypes and examining what is important – the story or the storyteller? The work is the brainchild of Thomas Eccleshare, co-artistic director of Dancing Brick, a company who strive to make “bold, poetic, visual performance”, and originally presented as Helen in 2014.
The two actors, Ashley Gerlach and Charlotte Melia, start by reading the forward and back email trail which ensues between the author and publisher of a children’s story which has more than a few similarities with the famous Harry Potter stories. The author too, reluctant to meet up with the publisher, has some character traits of J.K. Rowling who was keen to retain some anonymity despite the increasing popularity of the books and subsequent demands on her time.
In part two the ambiguity of some of the emails becomes clearer in a tense face-to-face encounter and finally, by the end of the play, both the story and the storyteller are laid bare.
It is a gripping script by Eccleshare, although it could just as easily have ended after part two, the audience on the edge of their seats having already been introduced to a number of challenging issues and questions.
Tension is built by both exquisite acting and production. Lights, sound, props and script all serve to make Heather an engaging hour of entertainment, ideal for those looking for something with some power and sincerity at this year’s Fringe, although not without some laughs for the parody elements of ‘Greta and the Pen Necromancer’.
Ultimately though Heather is about challenging and educating. What do we judge others by? Their work? Their talents? Their appearance? Does it matter? Do we ever truly know who people are behind their emails or social media profiles? Head to Summerhall and try and unpack these questions for yourself.