Aug 11 2018 | By More

★★★★☆   Gripping

Assembly Hall (venue 35): Thurs 2 – Mon 27 Aug 2018
Review by Sarah Moyes

A truly harrowing tale of survival is told in Heroine, a one woman show from Scene Change Productions making its world premiere this Fringe.

Heroine is based on the real-life story of a US military sexual trauma survivor, who for purpose of the play is called Danna Davis. The only female in her company of the US Army, Danna is here to tell her tragic story for the very first time.

Heroine EdFringe 2018 Mary Jane Wells. Pic Greg Macvean

Mary Jane Wells. Pic: Greg Macvean

After being kicked out of her family home because she was a lesbian, Danna decided to join the US Army. One night, after learning of her sexual orientation, three fellow serving soldiers brutally assault Danna.

It was the midst of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and her assailants know that she will never be able to report their attack as it would end to her career – she was attacked after a night out in a lesbian bar.

Her career in the army moves on, but then she finds herself on a dangerous combat mission where she has to rely on one of her vicious attackers to get her squad back to safety.

Dressed in her army uniform, writer and performer Mary Jane Wells performs the entire show on her own, slipping in and out of different characters are the show progresses.


However, there’s been a change to the usual set up as, due to an injury she sustained at the start of the Fringe, Wells is now performing in an ankle boot and wheelchair. It’s hard to tell what the show is like without the wheelchair, but under Susan Worsfold’s direction it certainly doesn’t affect the performance as she moves around the stage with ease.

There’s no fancy staging for Heroine – just a simple black box theatre set up which has cleverly brought to life through George Tarbuck’s lighting that reflects the part of the story being told. The sound, designed by Matt Padden, can be a bit overwhelming at times as it transports you right in the heart of the war zone where gun shots are fired loudly, with no warning around the theatre.

Even the most harrowing parts of Danna’s life in the army are not told from the point of view of a victim – graphic and raw though they might be, they keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you realise what is about to come. Wells brings a dark humour to her performance; she is someone searching for what it takes to become a survivor and move on from such life-changing events.

The fact that Heroine is a true story makes the show even more harrowing – a real triumph from start to finish.

Running time: 1 hour five minutes (no interval)
Assembly Hall, Rainy Hall (Venue 35), Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LU
Dates: Thursday 2 – Monday 27 August 2018
Daily: 12 noon.
Tickets from: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/Heroine

Website: www.heroinetheplay.com
Facebook: @heroinetheplay
Twitter: @heroinetheplay

A preview production which had a three performance run in 2017 is reviewed here: ★★★★☆ Raw.


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