Well, that was a brilliant Buxton Fringe. Not only did we have fantastically appreciative big audiences on each night, but we got an award! B-Shift did us proud again, and it couldn’t have been better (with the possible exception of having to wear boiler-suits in sweltering temperatures, perhaps).
Here is our Buxton Fringe review:
Naturally with this year commemorating 100 years since WWI began there has been a smattering of fringe entries based around this event. What makes this one stand out is that the story is a local one. Swan Canaries tells the tale of life in a munitions factory in Nottingham during the First World War. For those of you who don’t know, in these factories the women filled the shells for the war. The performance gives us a snapshot of four women’s lives inside the factory; the young lover, the widow, the mother with a secret to hide and the teacher turned factory supervisor.
It was a thoughtful production made all the more interesting and emotive with the use of songs from the era. The audience were encouraged to sing along throughout which added a “jolly” feeling from the start. Speaking of, the audience were given small tickets upon entering, offered cake for one of the girl’s birthday and when the play began we were spoken to as if we were starting work in the factory. The company made each person feel included as if we were part of the ladies exclusive group. I think that this made each person invested in the performance and the lives which were being portrayed. I was fully immersed in their tale.
The production was imaginative and clever in the way it created the entire munitions factory with just their bodies and 2 stools. Their actions and the staging were simple but effective, seamlessly moving from inside the munitions factory to outside just by a difference in how they moved and where they could walk on stage. Furthermore their use of physical theatre at moments throughout the play added texture to the visual and the story they created.
If all this hasn’t enticed you enough to see Swan Canaries I must mention the acting. Each woman gave a strong performance, they bounced off each other and there were some extraordinary moments between the women, demonstrating that life in the munitions factory was more than patriotism and yellow hands; there is sisterly love, conflict and family secrets.
I urge you all to go see Swan Canaries, you will laugh, sing, cry and admire the heroic women who worked in Shell – filling Factory Number 6, Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. A thought provoking look in to women’s roles in the First World War.
Come along and see why Swan Canaries won its award!