Edinburgh Book Fringe

As part of the Edinburgh Book Fringe, for an hour on Sunday afternoon theatre director and performer Morna Burdon takes the audience through a series of real-life stories and songs about ‘bonnie fechters’ – strong women who stand up for causes they care about, but whose names do not always appear in the history books. Among them are activist and social union leader Rose Schneider, Scottish mill worker Mary Brooksbank, and women in the Vietnam War.

If Burdon’s performance is any indication of the quality of the remaining events on the program, it goes without saying that book-lovers are in for a real treat.

One of the wonderful things about Burdon’s performance is its modest and unassuming quality. Her personality, charismatic though it is, hardly intrudes upon the women’s stories. Nonetheless her singing voice is a delight to listen to: mellow yet robust, drawn from reserves of strength not always apparent to the eye.

A fellow member of the audience later described the event as ‘uplifting’. While it is true that the stories offer hopeful messages, Burdon does not pretend to offer them up as solutions, or use them as cheap doses of feel-good inspiration. Rather, they are deeply moving, and in a way which, to Burdon’s credit, dodges the trap of over-sentimentality.

There are few bad things to say about her performance, but in a show with hope as its main theme, it could have been slightly more forward-looking by including more contemporary examples of female resilience.

Burdon’s show is part of a series of Book Fringe events taking place every day until August 28th. Word Power Books, a self-described ‘radical bookshop’ which promotes small presses and non-mainstream writers, offers both a cosy ambience and an apt literary backdrop. The Book Fringe opened on August 14 with comedian Mark Thomas, and will end with Janice Galloway reading from her new collection, Jellyfish: A Book of Short Stories. Among the list of remaining speakers are TV star CJ de Mooi, novelist Peter Ranscombe, and graphic artists Stewart Bremner and Greg Moodie.

If Burdon’s performance is any indication of the quality of the remaining events on the program, it goes without saying that book-lovers are in for a real treat.  

Reviews by Toh Wen Li

Appletree Writers at The Whole Works

Spoken Word Sundays: Women Speaking Their World

★★★
Paradise in Augustines

The Cagebirds

★★★
Spotlites

For the Love of Chocolate

★★★★
Sweet Grassmarket

Subsist

★★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Mrs Dalloway

★★★★
Gilded Balloon

The Sea Child

★★★

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The Blurb

Edinburgh Book Fringe welcomes writers and activists from around the world for free daily readings and discussions. The full programme is on our website at www.word-power.co.uk.

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