The Afflicted, a startling theatre-dance piece produced by Groupwork and performed at the Summerhall Demonstration Room, is a brilliant re-definition of the docu-drama format. This piece which combines elements of contemporary dance, podcasts, narration, and historical horror is as undefinable as it is magnificent.
The production finds a striking balance between the use of spoken word, video, and dance.
The production examines the true story of a mysterious illness that infects a group of young women in small-town America, but it digs deeper into the mystery than expected by examining the history of the town itself and the communities numerous encounters with tragedy. The choice of source material is not only compelling, but thematically opens up a series of fascinating questions about the history of mental health, particularly in women, and its connections to accusations of witchcraft and mass hysteria.
The production finds a striking balance between the use of spoken word, video, and dance. The acting and movement work of the ensemble is incredibly strong. The four women performing the piece exchange roles as narrator and subject seamlessly. A special mention for the lighting in the production that works perfectly to escalate the tension throughout the piece. The third act of the show does get a little muddy; it is hard to discern exactly where the investigation leads in the end and how everything connects, but the overarching implication that perhaps social media has become the new form of transmission for mass hysteria outbreaks makes a compelling case for the further development of the piece.
The venue of the Demonstration Room at Edinburgh’s former Royal (Dick) Veterinary College adds an element of the macabre to an already fear inducing production. Do not miss the chance to see this exciting evolution of the docu-drama tradition.