“What if life was all a game, and none of the rules made any sense?”
Created by Theatre Conspiracy in collaboration with Aurora Nova, Foreign Radical makes its UK debut at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Guided by a gameshow host in a white suit, frilled shirt and ruby-red bow tie, the award-winning production immerses its thirty audience members in a debate that explores security profiling, privacy, and freedom of expression. Followed by CCTV cameras, the movements of the spectators depend on personal and group responses to the action. Once divided and separated, they compete by gathering evidence from dramatic scenes, and hold the well-being of a young man in their hands. Chilling and hyper-real, Foreign Radical is an innovative piece of contemporary theatre, and like nothing else that you will experience at the Fringe.
Designed by Kyla Gardiner, the set is divided into four quadrants. Each space is separated by thick black curtains and semi-transparent plastic sheeting, and bear projections of documentary media and live feeds of the actors from another part of this foreign and radical world. Encounters with our host (played by Milton Lim), and detainee (Aryo Khakpour) intensify through the lens of an all-consuming cyber surveillance, burning the audience at both educated and emotional ends. At times, the participants are left alone at the mercy of a disembodied voice that rattles overhead, which, combined with sound and music by David Mesiha, works to press the lid of the performance down, crushing trust and rousing suspicion.
Adrenaline and cortisol boil in the blood as classified criteria for America’s Terrorist Watchlist manifests within the group. Political background, religious views and personal information are all used to the determine who will advance further into the narrative, and when. Cartoons and red and yellow flashcards build or destroy confidence with those who surround you, and before long, the fate of our potential extremist is held in the careful balance of moral sense and gut instinct.
Shadowed by statements and questions in Farsi and Arabic, Foreign Radical slips under the skin and shakes the very foundations of herd mentality. This thrilling interactive experience will stick close the soul and paint passport control in a colour that previously had no name. Each performance is totally unique, for it is the audience dynamic that influences the outcome of the story. How far are you willing to go to cross the border?
Foreign Radical is playing at CanadaHub@Kings Hall in Association with Summerhall until August 27. For more information and tickets, see www.tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/foreign-radical