8:8 review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘intense and strangely moving’
One of four Swiss shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, Mercimax’s abrupt, intense experience takes us quickly into a stranger’s soul.
Eight people sit in a line – that’s the audience – and eight stand at different distances, just staring. At first, you notice their faces. Their sizes and shapes, ethnicities. One pair of Converse, two striped tops, a tremoring hand.
In silence the eight turn to one side, then another, like posing for police mugshots, receiving some silent cue that makes them move in unison. They jump. Seven lie on the floor, one doesn’t. The synchronicity breaks down; the attempt at unison emphasises the individuality of these eight strangers.
They sit, they tell the eight of us about the eight of them. 70 years old, or 38 years old; a wife and two children, or three years in a women’s prison; a trained rock climbing instructor, or a year in Antarctica; a rifle turned on a boyfriend. Sometimes they tell us they’re lying. Maybe they’re lying about that.
They’re from all over the world and some have criminal records. Recently, the Swiss voted to approve expulsion for foreigners convicted of crimes. Here we are, eight of us, looking in a mirror that’s showing the wrong reflection.
It ends with headphones and an intense staring match as we each hear one person’s story more intimately. Then the eye contact breaks, and we’re left to reel and wonder, and worry about all the ways humans can refuse to forgive.
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