This rigourous and challenging hour examines both the very literal and very philosophical implications of translation and interpretation. Two performers, Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah tell parallel narratives in two parallel languages (spoken English and BSL) which intersect, diverge and build on each other to make a whole greater than its parts. Can I Start Again Please? uses reflections of listening and speaking (initially presumed to be about hearing and deaf communication, but quickly spinning out to be about much more) to look critically at why and how one remains silent after trauma and, specifically, sexual abuse. How can one speak about the unspeakable? And why would one speak if they know that others will not hear? While lesser works have used physical difference as the stuff of metaphor, MacLaine and Nadarajah’s relationship is textured and rich, providing a visual and aural landscape of communication to consider.
The speed of the work is steady, without gigantic leaps or crescendos, and the using of Wittgenstein’s philosophy as both pacing device and philosophical framework forces the audience to re-engage over and over again with how their brain works, and consciously consider how they are taking in the performance and the text. In this way, Can I Start Again Please intervenes into discourse around sexual assault and trauma, forcing audiences to think about how they receive the stories which are around us all the time yet still swept under carpets, or withheld until victims/survivors feel able to say anything (which is inevitably beyond the time that our inequitable world believes is the appropriate/acceptable). The work’s stately simplicity is an act of non-apology – there will be no appeals to your sympathy, but an appeal to make you hear, and understand.
CAN I START AGAIN PLEASE? Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah, 7-30 August, Summerhall. Venue is not wheelchair accessible. The performance is variously BSL interpreted, audio described and relaxed performance is available. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/can-i-start-again-please
More on Sue MacLaine’s work: http://www.suemaclaine.com/
Wittgensteins’ Tractatus: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5740/5740-pdf.pdf