Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

The performance The Other is part of Vive le Fringe! which takes place at the Institut Français d’Ecosse and provides off-beat quality performances by French or francophone artists. It is an inventive and memorable single live performance that recreates the experience of the child refugee girl. The play opens as Young Mana is catapulted from the war-torn Red Planet into a disturbing coming-of-age adventure to find refuge and safety on the Blue Planet.

Written and performed in English by French-Brazilian Gael Le Cornec, this gripping story was created as a stream of consciousness in response to refugee stories she has collected and was mostly inspired by one particular story of a girl.

Challenging form, the show uses shadow puppetry, physical theatre and poetic text to embark the audience on the refugee’s side, allowing the viewers to quickly become intimately part of the experience.

The journey takes place in three stages, starting with a conversation in the home country between child Mana and her grandmother, followed by her dangerous travel experiences as she faces shadow creatures and pumpkin-headed soldiers, ending as a refugee on the Blue Planet, where she is confronted with a new reality, including communication and identity issues.

The force of the show lies in the thoughtfully devised artistic production; its visual effects and poetry keep the audience in heart-breaking stillness throughout the journey. The powerful solo performance, switching between different personas with an empowering physical energy genuinely embodies the emotional experience of a young girl, from the dreams of a better life to a harsh reality as a refugee. The soundtrack also enhances the key dramatic and lighter moments, appropriately building up or relieving the tension. The very end is poetically led to free interpretation, wittily bringing back imagination and delicately rounding up the story.

All in all, The Other is a beautifully efficient show where the mixture of creativity, poetry and emotion leave you stunned. It is a rare journey and a great experience which shines a different light on the difficulties faced by refugees across the world.