The Oxford Dictionary defines the noun 'savage' as 1. a member of a people regarded as primitive and uncivilised, or 2. a brutal or vicious person. In An Account of a Savage, we meet both.
Joan was found on the edge of a forest sixty miles from the capital. It's thought bad weather and a subsequent lack of food flushed her out. We're introduced to her after her capture, and it's clear from the outset that life out of the woods isn't treating her well. Joan has become an object of popular fascination, and the subject of scientific experiments.
Set during an unknown period in the not-all-that-distant past, An Account of a Savage presents a damming portrait of the medical profession, and by extension anyone in a position of power. By the final scene, the stage is smeared with Joan's vomit and blood, she's trussed up and only semi-conscious, and her endless roars and screams are still ringing in the audience's ears.
From Romulus and Remus – the brothers raised by a she-wolf, who went on to found the city of Rome – to Mowgli and Tarzan, the feral child is the stuff that stories are made of. Likewise the savage, noble or otherwise. Caliban was raised by a witch rather than a wolf, but his fate demonstrates how one human can enslave and degrade another in the dubious name of civilisation.
Feral children stories continue to fascinate. In 2002, the Telegraph ran an article with the headline: 'Wolf boy is welcomed home by mother after years in the wild', while more recently, in 2015, the BBC published a story featuring the photography of Julia Fullerton-Batten called 'Feral: The children raised by wolves'. The article was as much about child abuse and neglect as it was about humans living with animals.
If you had any romantic notions about feral children, An Account of a Savage comprehensively dashes them. It shows the violence we are capable of inflicting on the vulnerable, on people we consider different from ourselves. The savage here is not the child, but those who have been trusted with her care. (HB)
An Account of a Savage played at C-nova at 16:45 until 13 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/account-of-a-savage
Definition of 'savage': http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/savage
'Feral: The children raised by wolves': http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/20151012-feral-the-children-raised-by-wolves
'Wolf boy is welcomed home by mother after years in the wild':http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/romania/1390871/Wolf-boy-is-welcomed-home-by-mother-after-years-in-the-wild.html
'6 cases of children being raised by animals': http://theweek.com/articles/471164/6-cases-children-being-raised-by-animals
'Feral Children: Lore of the Wild Child': http://www.livescience.com/41590-feral-children.html
'FERAL CHILDREN': https://www.damninteresting.com/feral-children/