EdFringe Review: E15 ★★★★
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Edinburgh Summerhall (Venue 26c)
Until Saturday 27th August 2016
“We’re here to protest every Saturday” they say as the audience take to their seats. Surely there is no need to protest. We remember that, when the estates full of social housing were cleared around the site of the London Olympics, the housing would be released to those that were displaced once the event was over. This show has the hard -hitting facts about what happens when greed is more important than need.
The story begins with a 17 year old girl who becomes pregnant and is then thrown out of her home. She goes to the council for accommodation but is turned away as she is under 18. Her only option is to sleep on the night buses. Eventually she turns 18 and is offered a place in the mother and baby unit at Focus in E15. This is a supported place in which the landlord receives an additional payment in order to provide a case worker who supports the young mother. The trouble is that the council cut that funding, resulting in the landlord serving eviction notices on the girls in the unit.
If you add this tale to a background of bedroom tax, the right-to-buy council homes and landlords mopping up housing stock as buy-to-lets and you have a housing crisis. This tale raises an eye-brow by highlighting how homes are being cleared from their current social housing tenants and boarded up. In other words, the show proposes, it isn’t so much a lack of housing stock but that the housing stock is left empty. This then leads to ridiculous numbers of people being sent to housing miles away from home. Is Manchester a place to send a mum if her support network is in London?
The play follows the story of the 29 mothers from the unit in E15 as they protest and gain in confidence. It looks at how the system handled them and is ultimately a powerful tool to open the eyes of the audience. After all, how much could we all lose before we too are homeless?
E15 discusses a number of hard hitting issues but it isn’t party political. It doesn’t ask for sympathy but rather for action. The vehicle of the young girls is merely a telescope through which the bigger picture is exposed. It is shocking but it to be congratulated for not going for any cheap shots. It is an incredible bit of drama that deserves bigger exposure. It is the sort of performance by a great ensemble of actors that should be picked up by TV.
Drama is a perfect vehicle for social action when handled like this. Lung Theatre has produced a fabulous piece of raw kitchen sink drama. It is difficult not to be moved and demand action.
This review was written by Stephen Oliver the North East Theatre Guide – follow Stephen at @panic_c_button
Read the North East Theatre Guide preview here: http://nomorepanicbutton.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/preview-northern-stage-at-edinburgh.html
For full details or to book tickets online visit www.northernstage.co.uk/edinburghor call the Summerhall Box Office on 0131 560 1581