0 Love It

Nirbhaya review

Assembly Hall

'Nirbhaya' Poorna Jagannathan and Priyanka Bose
William Burdett-Coutts

A Hindi word meaning ‘fearless’, Nirbhaya is a name the Indian public gave to Jyoti Singh Pandey, the young Delhi woman who was violently gang raped on a bus last December, dying of her wounds 13 days later.

Tackling the subject of abuse against women with a bracing directness, South African director-playwright Yael Farber’s new show brings together a troupe of five Indian victims of physical and sexual abuse and has them dramatically retell Pandey’s story and their own (aided by two pro actors, Ankur Vikal and Japjit Kaur).

As you’d expect, it’s oft-gruelling stuff – all the stories are terrible, but the visibly scarred Sneha Jawale’s account of her husband’s attempt to burn her to death is as harrowing as anything you’ll ever see on a stage. And yet there is something palpably empowering about the flashing-eyed anger with which they share their stories, and while there are no real answers offered, the mere existence of the show is a happy ending of sorts.

Some glossy wordless sequences feel ill judged, but ‘Nirbhaya’ isn’t a success through gloss but because of the unvarnished potency of listening to these women share their ordeals. It is not as accomplished as Farber’s 2012 Fringe enormo-hit ‘Mies Julie’, but that was hardly the point, and she deserves enormous credit for getting these women comfortable enough to talk about the terrible things that have happened to them. At a time when rape threats have become casual social media currency, it’s intensely sobering to have a play like this that reminds us so viscerally of the real horrors of sexual violence.

The latest Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews

Pioneer review

It's probably written down somewhere in an old dusty book of Edinburgh Fringe Rules that staging a big-scale sci-fi thriller with a complex set is Not Advisable. Science-focussed theatre company Curious Directive have clearly ignored all the rules.

Read the review

Read more

Little on the Inside review

How do you escape the same four walls, when they're all you have to look at for the next 20 years? Alice Birch’s two hander play ‘Little on the Inside’ has the answer: with your imagination.

Read the review

Read more

Early Doors review

Pint after breakfast anyone? Noon may sound a little early to be drinking, but you’d feel out of place if you didn’t join in with the regulars during this play staged in a small Edinburgh boozer.

Read the review

Read more

Nothing review

Struggling to find work, bored, angry and obsessed with technology and sex: a bunch of today’s Generation Y speak to us in this series of monologues.

Read the review

Read more
Show more