We Are Not Criminals

Aug 14 2016 | By More

★★★★★   One step ahead

theSpace on the Mile: Mon 8 – Fri 26 Aug 2016
Review by Linus West

Fully aware of what the audience needs and when to give it to them, Forty Elephants’ original production We Are Not Criminals hits all the right notes at all the right times.

A newly formed group of five recent graduates, these women have absolutely everything pitched against them, and blow it out of the park with their Fringe debut.

The cast of We Are Not Criminals. Photo: Forty Elephants

Ellis Eve Sharp, Hannah Baretto, Lisa Robertson, Sarah Stirton (behind sofa) and Rhona Mackay. Photo: Forty Elephants

The show tells the story of five school friends, reunited after 15 years, when they clash over the long-past, violent death of their fellow student Sophie Turner, something they all had a part to play in.

At first glance, this script is so expertly written, with such professional pacing, that it seems almost certain it must be by a third party. But it is an original script by group member Sarah Stirton, the quality of which rivals most professional fringe productions.

It knows what the audience is feeling at all times. It knows when to give them something more, when to hold back, what they’re expecting and when to twist everything around.

The dialogue maybe begins to dry up very slightly after 20 minutes or so when lines start to become unrealistic and struggle with the concept of show, not tell. But that’s something that can only come with experience. Otherwise, this is an impressive feat.

an intriguing sense of mystery

In acting too, the group excels. Each cast member gives it their all – Hannah Barreto as Lucy delivers a particularly strong showing, clearly fully aware of everything going on inside her character’s head, as she struggles to escape a past of juvenile detention.

We are not Criminals cast members. Photo: Forty Elephants

Rhona Mackay and Sarah Stirton. Photo: Forty Elephants

Rhona Mackay inhabits Hannah’s skin seamlessly, Ellis-Eve Sharp maintains an intriguing sense of mystery, and Lisa Robertson completely sells the twist when it comes.

Every member of the cast knows when it’s their moment, and when to shift the spotlight over to someone else. This performance flows onstage with quick and witty interaction – and excellent teamwork.

Now and again, there’s an odd part which slips the audience out of reality. A walk across the stage that doesn’t make sense, a gesture clearly taught as a go-to characterisation trick, an odd delivery that doesn’t quite sound right, but nothing damming.

We Are Not Criminals is a rare event in the Fringe – a rookie group takes everything on first go, original script and all, and lands every blow. A group aiming to bring more female roles to the stage with “depth, variety or excitement” – they have delivered just that, first time.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile, High Street, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Monday 8 – Friday 26 August 2016.
Even Dates only: 3:05pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/we-are-not-criminals
Forty Elephants Facebook: FortyElephantsTheatreCompany
Forty Elephants Twitter: @40_Elephants


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