Review: Fault Lines, at Summerhall

Fault Lines, part of this year’s Manipulate festival, from creative duo, Alister Lownie and Katherina Radeva, is a singularly immersing success of a show. Reclaimed, and reconstructed, this is a cat walk designed to celebrate womankind, and amplify their truths. The diversity in representation achieved is nothing short of spectacular.  Go to this show if you get the chance.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fault Lines
📍 Summerhall, Edinburgh
📅 05 – 06 February 2020
🕖 9:00pm
🕖 Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes (no interval)
👥 Created and performed by Two Destination Language
📚 New writing
💰 From £10
🎭 There is no spoken dialogue in this production. BSL integrated.

Most theatre comes with only one audio channel, from stage to ear; Fault Lines, by the power of Wi-Fi, smart-device, app, and headphones, offers six more. Getting connected is straight forward. The creative team were on hand to give guidance, and in some cases to loan out kit. There’s spoken word, music, documentary, and narration to choose from; stay with one, or hop between.

The result is a uniquely customisable experience; you read the show very differently when enjoying the classical music of female composers, than, for example, when engrossed by stories from the performers’ personal lives.

As to the action, well it takes place upon a runway trimmed with strip lighting. At one end stands a red cage: a refuge, and changing room, for five intrepid model-performers: Cindy Awor, Hannah Yahya Hassan, Welly O’Brien, Damyana Radeva, and Caroline Ryan. A sixth member of the cast, Rachel Glover, mans the production desk.

The show is a joyful, sensitive, and potently wordless investigation into the female lived experience. It is the epitome of ‘show, don’t tell.’ The imagery is continually fascinating; at some points powerfully symbolic, whilst at others, deliciously abstract. Clothing is integral to this subversion of the fashion show, though now it’s used to expose reality, rather than sell an illusion.

Images courtesy of Beth Chalmers

From power shoulders, to the maid’s pinafore; from tutu to sequined seduction; from rebel to conqueror, women both find, and are confined by, their style and self-presentation.

Summarising the rich tapestry of narratives which emerges over the show’s hour and twenty minutes would be a futile effort. I laughed, sighed, gasped, and cheered; not rationally understanding absolutely everything set before me, yet instinctively engaging with it at all times. Fault Lines is a tremendous, and wholly accessible, experience.

Each performer impresses: it would be genuinely unfair to single any single person out. Brava to all!

There’s a rare quality of shared ownership radiating from the entire piece, a result, perhaps, of a symbiotic relationship between the creative minds of Two Direction Language, and their talented cast. The figures upon the runway feel less like works of fiction, and far more like women exploring their real, complicated, multi-faceted, and terrifyingly glorious truths. Empowered by this truly diverse cast, Fault Lines playfully, and determinedly interrogates the nature of female identity.

This is a multi-media, multi-layered success, which I have absolutely struggled to review. Perhaps, just as with its subject matter, Fault Lines, should simply be seen, and not defined.

Fault Lines played as part of the Manipulate Festival from the 05 – 06 February 2020.

The Manipulate Festival will continue until 08 February 2020. For more information about the festival and upcoming performances, visit:

More information about Fault Lines continuing tour can be found at:

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