Alice loves to run, and she’s pretty sure she’s the fastest in the class. Jade loves listening to her grandma’s stories (while enjoying her ginger cake). And Chloe loves nothing as much as hanging out in her local woods, enjoying the bird life and hoping to spot an elusive deer. They’re all in P7, on the cusp of their world changing before big school, and feeling increasingly frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard
Protest tells the story of these three girls’ attempts to stamp their feet and find their voice. Alice (Kirsty MacLaren) attempts to challenge the teacher’s assumption that the boys will outpace her and her friend at the school’s end-of-year sports day. Jade (Tamara Fairbairn) is forced to endure not only the gently patronising attempts of her teacher’s attempts to celebrate her family’s heritage but a more insidious racist outburst at school. As for Chloe (a quietly wistful Esmé Kingdom), infuriated by the school’s decision to ban the climate strike, she wrestles with her own inadequacy in the face of Greta Thunberg’s high-profile campaigning.
Hannah Lavery‘s economical script sees most of the tale delivered via a series of monologues that weave around each other as the actors traverse Amy Jane Cook‘s sugar almond bright set. You’ll have seen plenty of plays structured like this before, yet Protest comes into its own when the threads connecting each individual story entwine, culminating in a potent demonstration of the extent to which individual actions matter. Director Natalie Ibu celebrates each character’s delightful individuality and uses choreography alongside Lauren Gilmour and Audrey Tait‘s perky sound design to bring momentum and energy to the piece.
Intended for 8-13 year-olds as part of Imaginate, the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, the topics and themes are likely to suit younger children down to the ground and might lack a bit of bite for a worldly wise 13-year-old. But Lavery’s message is universal; “Hope is a super power,” the girls conclude, so we can all make a difference. In a world of broken promises and relentless injustice, that’s a message to take to heart, whatever your age.