Edinburgh Fringe – Cardboard Citizens: Bystanders


Cardboard Citizens: Bystanders
Written by Adrian Jackson
Starring Jake Goode, Libby Liburd, Mark Lockyer and Andre Skeete
Summerhall, Tech Cube 0
11:30am-12:30pm
2 – 25 August (not 12th or 19th)
Tickets £5 for previews, from £10 for week days and weekends
Age recommendation 12+

by Bernie C Byrnes

Based in London, Cardboard Citizens has been making life-changing theatre with and for homeless people for 28 years and they are very good at what they do. Their latest offering, Bystanders, deals with, unsurprisingly, homelessness – more specifically how free people feel to treat homeless people badly, even at an institutional level.

After last year’s revelations by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism on the largely unreported and unrecorded scale of homeless deaths in the UK, Bystanders gives those unheard voices the stage in true-life stories told with authenticity, wit and sadness.

Writer/Director Adrian Jackson has created a moving, powerful piece that avoids the pitfalls of ‘poverty porn’. His script is brought to life by a versatile cast of four, who dart between a myriad of characters effortlessly giving voice to those who traditionally have none. A Windrush generation boxer, a Polish migrant marked with a tattoo and a man with a bottle of gin and a television in his shopping trolley are just some of the true stories explored via CC TV Footage, filmed interviews and verbatim theatre.

We are all one miss-step away from homelessness and maybe that’s what lies behind people’s motivation to hurl abuse and violence at them, or to simply let them freeze to death. Perhaps it’s fear? I choose not to spend too long pondering what lies behind this sort of behaviour because to understand it is to accept it and I can’t, I won’t.

Bystanders combines slick, clever direction and effective storytelling. Warning, take a tissue, it’s hard not to cry at this one.



 

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