3 stars ***
Just Festival (Venue 127)
WEAVING ITS WAY from Kerala in the 1930’s to Edinburgh in 2014 – with many detours and pauses for thought – Annie George’s solo show is a rich and meditative piece of family history, full of insight into the complex relationship between Indian culture and the idea of modernity, as it played out inthe 20th century. On a simple stage backed by a rippling muslin curtain, George plays herself, her mother and her grandmother, all with different perspectives; the chief character, though, is her grandfather Paduthottu Mathen John, a poet and author in pre-independence India, who died in 1945 at the age of only 40.
Over 60 minutes, George brings together live performance, recorded voices, and visual images of family trees, old photographs, and her grandfather’s writings, in an effort to recapture his story, and that of his children. It’s a slow-moving show, a little hesitant in style; and it sometimes seems a shade unambitious in drawing out the wider meanings of the narrative, across a vital period in Indian and British history. There’s a memorable atmosphere and texture to The Bridge, though; and if it sometimes lacks dynamism as drama, it nonetheless represents a powerful act of remembrance for past generations, and for the sacrifices and journeys they made, in the quest for a future in which their grandchildren might be free to speak, to aspire, and to create.