The British occupation of Iceland in the 1940s has been forgotten by most, but for young Icelandic women Selma and Kate the soldiers’ stay in Reykjavik is a period that will never leave their minds or their hearts. Operation Fork saw British troops suddenly outnumber Icelandic men and it’s not long before the locals begin to see potential for profit in the visitors. While David plans to open a fish and chip shop, his daughter Selma spots an opportunity to escape her quiet life and begins selling her body to the troops in a back room, saving for a passage to America. Selma’s timid cousin Kate only came to the city to find a job but begins to tentatively fall in love with the gentlemanly Robert from Basingstoke.
Agnes Þorkelsdóttir Wild’s unique tragicomedy KATE is full of surprises, from the beautiful harmonies of folk songs to its flecks of Icelandic language. The story races along, quickly abandoning the Scandi knit cosiness of romance as jealousy sets in amongst the women and the men begin to feel threatened by the British. In a flurry of torn paper snow scattered about by a noisy leaf blower we’re transported deep into the twisted fairy tale, to the otherworldliness of a land not that far away or long ago at all.
Each moment and plot twist is enthusiastically captured by the small but perfectly formed ensemble of Lost Watch Theatre Company. There are similarities in style and talent for clever storytelling between them and last year’s young Fringe sensation (and IdeasTap Underbelly Award winning) Antler Theatre. Lost Watch’s charming performance of KATE confirms them as a true creative force with a rare and clear identity. It’s impossible not to fall in love with them.
There’s a handful of unnecessary segments but with simple staging and buckets of imagination, KATE is pure magic. A beautiful and unmissable production that makes an indelible impression.
KATE is at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.