The Archive of Educated Hearts

"People are amazing, aren’t they?" So asks a lone voice in the darkness. It is, of course a rhetorical question: The Archive of Educated Hearts is a tiny gem, far away from the hysterical melee of the Fringe. It examines the unnoticed warriors that we can be, and often are in the everyday banal, grey and unimportant days of our lives.

It’s less than half an hour, but may well be the most transformative hour you’ll have at the Fringe.

All of which makes The Archive Of Uneducated Hearts sounds joyous and uplifting. And it is, but not without cost. It’s the story (and stories) of death, multiplied by two: a death that we know is coming, and the death before that; the moment in our life that can be cleanly divided into before and after; the life that was normal and usual and full of discarded domino pieces and actual, physical photographs that you can hold (rather than scroll past), and the life that is waiting – and willing against – the inevitable end. Of course, we all know that we’re going to die. But being able to know when to mark that event in a calendar – to know, in fact, that to buy a calendar is an act of ruthless optimism - tends to focus the mind. And so our guide - Casey Jay Andrews - tells us the stories of women: indivdual, but connected by news that is unfair and devesating. Those photographs are laid out on a table and we hear stories - both from Andrews and the women themselves, reminding us that even the people who are in the audience with us are hefting unseen icebergs of life and loss.

Andrews is the sole performer (and consider a full house, plus the cast, means that there will only ever be six of you in the Archive), and she has a serene, calming tone, albeit one that (almost) masks a steely composure. Andrews dresses in daffodil yellow (which may be a clue as to some of the more potentially upsetting nature of the text). In a significantly small performance space, where performer and audience knees are almost touching, The Archive Of Educated Hearts certainly has the potential to be imposing: but Andrews is metaphorically if not physically holding your hand.

The performance is less than half an hour, but may well be the most transformative half hour you’ll have at the Fringe. There are moments of quiet sorrow and desperate unfairness here, but in this life – and your life – filled with clutter and unremarkable things, you are reminded that we all have the power to be (that indeed we already are) remarkable, powerful and magical. On a dreary, drizzly day, when so many of us will receive news that multiply death by two, the world seems just a little brighter.

Reviews by Andrew Allen

Pleasance Courtyard

The Archive of Educated Hearts

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

The Pin: Backstage

★★★★
Pleasance Dome

The Lampoons: House on Haunted Hill

★★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Foil, Arms and Hog – Craicling

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Janeane Garofalo: Put a Pin in That

★★★★
C venues – C aquila

Hymns for Robots

★★★

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.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Scrawled diary entries, answer-phone messages blinking on an old landline, a shoebox of postcards and cassette tapes winding stories across years and continents. The Archive is an intimate storytelling installation containing the remarkable moments that make up a lifetime. The audience are surrounded by relics and keepsakes that allow a glimpse into stories of kindness and courage; fragments of absolute joy and incomprehensible heartbreak. The Archive is crafted from true stories of families facing breast cancer. Previous reviews: 'A uniquely intimate theatre experience' ***** (FringeBiscuit.co.uk). ***** (BritishTheatreGuide.info). ***** (WestEndWilma.com).

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