Aug 23 2017 | By More

★★★★☆   Sharp

Summerhall (Venue 26): Sat 5 – Sat 26 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is huge rage and tight focus in Selina Thompson’s salt., a one-woman show about the legacy of slavery, and how the attitudes that fuelled it still persist.

A journey to Ghana and Jamaica, recreating the triangular route of the Transatlantic slave trade, involves racism both implicit and overt, and reinforces just how much of European power came from the blood and bodies of the enslaved diaspora Thompson pays tribute to.

Selina Thompson in salt. Pic: Northern Stage.

There is often a danger in rawly personal theatrical experiences, in that the feelings that gave rise to them are sometimes not transmitted to the audience. However, there is much more than liberal guilt to be felt here. Thompson is an excellent performer, who can do conspiratorial humour every bit as well as stern brutality.

Allied to this is a formidable theatrical intelligence and a sense of structure and spectacle that leads to a superbly constructed piece. The portrait of her sceptical adopted father, for example, is so beautifully integrated into the piece that you do not notice how clever it is.

There are a couple of false steps in the telling, but these do not detract from an admirably constructed, viscerally compelling piece of theatre.

At one point Thompson attacks a huge lump of rock salt with a sledgehammer, necessitating the front three rows wearing safety goggles. The show is as flinty and as sharp as the shards of salty stone that fly off. It is an understanding yet unforgiving confrontation with the wounds of imperialism, and an acknowledgement of a reckoning that has yet to be made.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL (Venue 26)
Saturday 5 – Saturday 26 August 2017
Daily (not Wednesdsays) at 2.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe
Company website:
Twitter: @SelinaNThompson


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