Camden Fringe 2017: Bullet Hole at Etcetera Theatre
Camden’s 12th Fringe Festival has officially kicked off and it once again promises to offer a wide selection of diverse performances. Playwright Gloria Williams contributes by drawing attention to the weighty theme that is Female Genital Mutation. In a work that sees her in the leading role, she explores some of the overlooked implications surrounding a subject that is still largely shrouded in taboos.
The central character is Cleo (Williams), who has lived with the physical and emotional scars of Type 3 FGM since she was a child. Living in London, she finds herself in a limbo between different attitudes and expectations surrounding the female body. After being raped by her husband, she decides to undergo reversal surgery, but she faces yet another obstacle in the form of her family’s firm objections. Her aunt Winnie speaks of FGM as a gift from God, while Eve, a fellow victim whom Cleo develops a special bond with, sits on the fence, feeling drawn to both sides of the argument.
What makes Bullet Hole a valuable production is the fact that FGM is not often talked about, especially in a context that discloses the personal day-to-day struggles of those affected by it. The substance of the play lies in the theme itself and Williams succeeds in educating the audience regarding some of the facts and inviting reflection. As for the dramatic element, it is clearly constructed around the desire to disclose facts and, while it is engaging enough, the action largely remains two-dimensional.
The three characters are mouthpieces of three different, clear-cut points of view. Winnie and Cleo are, respectively, for and against the practice, while Eve is undecided, which provides the premise for an interesting conflict that, however, is left undeveloped, as she does not evolve much by the end of her journey. The trio of actresses do get the story going and there are some nice exchanges between them, but the piece ultimately lacks depth and the potentially enormous emotional dimension is limited to moments of shouting (mainly facts) and a tense atmosphere that remains unchanged from beginning to end.
While the objective of this play is commendable, its dramatic and informative aspects do not gel together, leaving both underdeveloped. Still, this is an important work that deserves to be seen for its educational value.
Photo: Naiad Productions Ltd / Facebook
Bullet Hole is at Etcetera Theatre from 2nd until 6th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.
For further information about Camden Fringe Festival 2017 visit the website here.