Pleasance Dome – QueenDome
In 1791 the population of Haiti started a revolution that led the country to gain independence. Following over twelve years of war it became the first free black republic in the world and the first independent Caribbean state. To this day, this remains the only successful uprising initiated by enslaved people.
Offering a much-needed non-Eurocentric approach, Bogeyman presents in detail the events that took place over those years, linking them to the origins of popular beliefs and superstitions attributed to that part of the world. In particular, writer and director Emily Aboud choses a thriller undertone to expose how voodoo came from frightened Europeans needing to justify their defeat at the hands of a slave movement.
Another strain of the performance delves into the diffusion of diabetes amongst populations who were forcefully removed from their countries and introduced elsewhere, such as the African slaves into the Caribbean. These settlements suffered irreparable genetic malfunctions.
Aboud has done some serious research to develop this work, but she might have run out of steam when the time came to piece it all together. All that valuable information is drowned by a lack of concision. I can’t help but think that the 70 minute running time could have been reduced to the fringe standard 60 minutes without any significant loss – and perhaps with some improvement.
As an attempt to move away from the tone of a lecture, the use of a conversational structure doesn’t quite reach its goal. At times, the four on stage seem to be revising a history lesson. Movement is added to liven up the clunky script, however it isn’t very pertinent to the narration and becomes distracting. On the other hand, the set design is fresh and the music perfectly in tune with the tribal vibe that they intended to create.
Introducing audiences to diverse visions of history is crucial for the modernisation of our society, but in this case it calls for a more articulate translation onto the stage. And the pieces are all there for Lagahoo Theatre to play with. As proven by the audiences flocking to the Pleasance Dome, we are all keen to learn how history unfolded in other parts of the world, but before this show can fulfil its full potential one more draft may be necessary, as well as the keen eye of an impartial director.
Written and Directed by: Emily Aboud
Produced by: Lagahoo Productions in association with the Pleasance
Bogeyman plays at EdFringe 2022 until 29 August. Further information and bookings here.