Bella Freak: Unwritten

Unwritten, according to the flyer, is ‘a secret history of Scotland’; specifically, though, it uses the individual experiences of three disabled people to talk about Inclusive Education. It’s listed in the Fringe programme under Theatre (albeit with the caveat of ‘true-life’); yet it’s closer in form to Spoken Word: three people on an empty stage, talking straight at us with a minimum of theatrical effects in terms of writing and presentation.

There will likely be few shows on the Fringe with more authenticity than this.

Stark? Certainly. Shocking? Occasionally. Memorable? Undoubtedly. There will likely be few shows on the Fringe with more authenticity than this. These are succinct, emotional stories of real lives, told by those who have lived them. They are people who learned by experience that ‘Special’ can be another word for ‘Second Class’. Until all-too-recently, ‘Special’ (ie, Disabled) people would vanish, into ‘Special’ schools and institutions. Policy has changed since the 1980s, but it’s debatable whether mainstream education even now is anywhere near as ‘inclusive’ as it should be when it comes to anti-bullying, child protection and disability.

Sasha Callaghan and Stuart Pyper are graduates of the MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University, while David Nicol has performed in many shows by Edinburgh-based arts company ACTive INquiry. Callaghan’s stately delivery, of her childhood conversations with ‘the Dead’, seamlessly shifts back and forth between amusing—“The Dead are notoriously unreliable.”—and disturbing. With Pyper there is a sharper edge; not least because the adult diagnosis of his Autism is essentially proof that it should have been diagnosed earlier. Nicol, meantime, seems more matter-of-fact about how his varied experiences at school made him who he is.

While there’s a clear structure to their show—with a repeated emphasis on them supposedly being ‘Special’—Callaghan, Pyper and Nicol don’t come to any definitive conclusion; after all, they’re still living their lives. Given current austerity-driven government policies, they’re not exactly optimistic, but haven’t given up on being who they are—and being accepted for that. Not as ‘Special’; just everyday, like everyone else—even if they’re performing on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Three memoirs of disability. Three histories of a nation. The boy without superpowers. The girl who spoke to the dead. The man who broke chains. Unwritten collects the poignant, but often comical, true-life stories of three disabled individuals with wide-ranging impairments, placing them in cultural and historical contexts from the Act of Union to the 21st century as a fundamental part of Scotland's national story. Unwritten is produced by Disability History Scotland/Bella Freak with support from the HLF. The show is written and performed by Sasha Callaghan, David Nicol and Stuart Pyper. Directed by Sara-Jane McGeachy.

Most Popular See More

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Blithe Spirit

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets