Set in the basement bar of a stylish restaurant, this performance space is intimate and inviting. Otis Redding sings softly from the turntable on stage, sometimes getting stuck on and repeating the word 'I'. The disc is left spinning after the song has ended, providing a soundtrack for the performance; a soft, repetitive, regular sound of a needle resting on circling vinyl.
Nye Russell-Thompson enters the stage with a huge pile of large cards which he puts down, then begins to try to speak to us, except his word seems to be 'stuck'. His persistent, repetitive efforts to push this word out, again and again, don't succeed. Ruseell-Thompson stops attempting to speak and turns to the cards, holding up the first one, on which is written a word in large black marker pen. The cards become his 'other' voice, his internal voice, often witty and like-able, which he shares with us, the audience. He invites us to help him articulate the word he is struggling with, and we join him, fleetingly and momentarily in his struggle to speak, with an un-co-operative mouth. His invitation to experience the physical processes involved in stammering, is a confident act, in contrast to the inner voices that later insult and strip him bare of his ability to hold on to his integrity. We see the words on the cards spiral into a self-attacking, demoralising stripping away of dignity and self-confidence, having increasing effect on the confidence and self-esteem of this young man standing before us in a sea of words at his feet.
This performance offers an opportunity for reflection on the disruptions of social structures and we are faced with the question of how we might personally respond to situations when more time is required than we might be 'familiar' with for activities that many of us take for granted. A card reading ‘DOESN’T MATTER’ quietly, but devastatingly, demonstrates what happens when someone’s voice takes longer or sounds different from the norm: they can feel disempowered in their own voice, convinced that the content of their (perhaps slow) conversation doesn’t matter. Who takes responsibility and who allows for the structures around communication to be altered? In parallel with Sue MacLaine and Selma Nadarajah’s Can I Start Again Please, and Lost Voice Guy’s Disability for Dunces, issues of being heard and being silenced, being allowed a voice, are powerfully addressed. There is less need to coax voices from those who are mostly-silent (they are already out there, and they are powerful), and more of a need to teach everyone to listen better. (CL)
JUST A FEW WORDS, Nye Russell-Thompson, 8-29 August (Except Wednesdays)Clouds and Soil - Compass Room (Venue 71). Unfortunately the venue is not wheelchair accessible. Performance space is down a flight of aprox 20 stairs with a rail on the right hand side (descending) http://freefringe.org.uk/edinburgh-fringe-festival/just-a-few-words/2015-08-15/
More about the show from the British Stammering Association: http://www.stammering.org/speaking-out/article/just-few-words
About Can I Start Again Please?: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/can-i-start-again-please
About Lost Voice Guy: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lost-voice-guy-disability-for-dunces