REVIEW: How Not To Drown, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe ✭✭✭✭✭

Last Updated on 16th August 2019

Paul T Davies reviews How Not To Drown by Nicola McCarthy now playing at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

How Not To Drown Edinburgh Fringe
Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

How Not To Drown
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe
10 August 2019
5 Stars
Book Tickets

When he was a child, during the turmoil following the Kosovan War, Dritan Kastrati was sent, by his father, on a perilous journey to Britain, where it was believed he would live to 18 and have a better life. This is his true story, adapted and written by Nicola McCarthy with Ditan. The play is a journey through cultures, borders, homes and emotions, and is beautifully staged and directed by Neil Bettles, who also creates the stunning, fluid, beautiful choreography.
The ensemble all play Ditan and every character in the piece and their work is seamless and fluid. Dritan himself narrates and shares his story with Ajjaz Awad, Esme Bailey, Daniel Cahill, Reuben Joseph, and they beat as one heart. The first half, creating boats, lorries, trains and dodgy transportation, is searing and visceral, journeys created using minimal props. The scenes of small boats at the mercy of the ocean is breath taking. But the second half is even more powerful when Ditan enters the social system in the UK. Spoiler alert, authority does not come out of it well. But gradually he finds good people, good foster parents and, here is where my tears began to fall, a teacher who saves him.
The question, “Why did my father do that” runs through the play, and he gets to ask that at the play’s end, when Ditan returns home to the country he now no longer feels he belongs to. But where is home? It’s a question being asked at this year’s Fringe, and this beautiful production provides no easy answers. This play will stay with you long after Ditan has told you his story, and is inspitational and moving, the story of a survivor of the worst and best of humanity
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