Bonnie Fechters

Aug 20 2017 | By More

Bonnie Fechters – Songs and Stories of Hope and Resistance

★★★☆☆  Gallus

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Fri 18 – Sat 26 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Bonnie Fechters – Songs of Hope and Resistance – a one-woman show devised, directed and performed by Morna Burdon at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – has a friendly and inclusive feel that at times belies the bite of its content.

It is probably an illusion, but there was a time when shows like this seemed to be much more prominent on the Fringe than they are now. Proudly Scottish but internationalist in outlook, it is deliberately and defiantly low-key – one woman armed with nothing more than a ring binder and her warm, strong singing voice, in an intimate space on the High Street.

Morna Burdon

The songs and stories deal mainly with defiant and inspirational women, but range around the world – from Mary Brooksbank in Dundee’s jute mills, through the Grunwick strike of women workers originally from South Asia, to the Vietnam war – and are provided with just enough historical context.

Some of the links between the songs are devoted a little too much to descriptions of Burdon’s life and work in the theatre, which is not always relevant. While the focus on history is interesting, there is also a feeling that some of the content could be a little more up-to-date.

There is also a tendency to over-emote in some of the songs, particularly as they draw to a close, that is overpowering in such a small space. Overall, however, there is a fine balance struck, with some of the performances – notably a haunting Betsy Bell and Mary Gray – being spellbinding.

What is particularly good is the way that the history and the consciousness-raising seem so natural. It is the sort of show that is often characterised as ‘preaching to the converted’, but this seems more like sharing than preaching.

Running time 45 minutes (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30), 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Friday 18 – Saturday 26 August 2017
Performances on 18 – 20, 25 – 26 only at 1.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Scottish Storytelling Centre details: Bonnie Fechters


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