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Our Country review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘complex story of a tangled brother-sister relationship’

Max Hersey and Annie Saunders in Our Country at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Gema Galiana Max Hersey and Annie Saunders in Our Country at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Gema Galiana

Siblings share so much – whether it’s their make-believe games, whispered stories or their own brand of rough-housing. In Annie Saunders’ and Becca Wolff’s dance-heavy theatre piece, Our Country, these kinds of interactions are used to tell a complex story of a tangled brother-sister relationship – one that is not easy to hold on to and impossible to let go of.

Saunders introduces us to her younger brother, Rafe, who has lived life out of step with the law. He works in a part of California he calls the “wild, wild west,” where illegal marijuana growers proliferate. He’s facing possible jail time and needs her character reference. Using audio from an interview between Saunders and Rafe, she and actor Max Hersey recreate the siblings’ conversations, arguments and childhood play with dreamlike, gauzy memory imprecision.

While much is spoken, the charged dance sequences demonstrate how intertwined the two are – moving in violent and conflicted ways but always returning to each other. Saunders and Hersey generate a startling intimacy as they push and pull at each other’s recollections and wounds. Though intensely personal, the show reminds us all that the sibling who can bring you to tears can also make you laugh in an instant.

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Emotional exploration of complicated sibling relationship using emotive dance, mythology and cowboy metaphors