As regular readers will no doubt be aware due to my lack of posts on the topic, my Edinburgh fringe was a wee bit late in kicking off this year. This was due to the after effects of a leg injury taking longer than expected to sod off and so it wasn’t until the Tuesday of week three that I finally got off and running but when I did I hit it with a vengeance As I got to the Banshee which is and ever shall be my Edinburgh local I settled in , having my first of many Diet Coke’s before going to see my first show of Edinburgh 2017.
The show of choice was The Other Side Of The Flood by David Lee Morgan (pictured below) This play in six voices set in the year 2035 was a beautifully constructed piece of theatre in which Morgan an accomplished poet , and musician narrates the story of a world on the brink of a global socialist revolution. Fighting has broken all out all over the world and all communication has stopped. To add to this the American government has used nuclear weapons on it’s own people most noticeably the Los Angeles Socialist Revolutionary Commune which has been decimated by this attack.
Picture David Lee Morgan rocks the Banshee Banqueting Hall
During an action packed 50 minutes Morgan explores the themes of socialism, internationalism, love, cross cultural boundaries, death, hopes, fears, and mental health through Jesse a young Mexican-American , and his lover Sultana who comes from a traditional Pakistani Muslim background.
As our story begins the world is on the eve of the revolution but this development is not welcomed by everyone and is being fiercely opposed by those forces who have most to lose. The Los Angeles commune has been attacked and many of the revolutionaries killed whilst Jesse lies on a life support machine. There is only one way to save humanity from an impending Armageddon and that is to place the brain of a fighter for peace in to the computer drone which could change everything and Jesse is the perfect candidate for the task. Through still alive, he has no chance of making what we would call a full recovery and is living out his last days determined to do what he can for the cause he believes in with every fibre of his being
During this time a void is needing to be filled as people lose faith in organised religions and the old order is on the verge of collapse. This depending on your viewpoint can be seen as crisis or opportunity and the global socialist movement view it as an opportunity to create a new belief system to benefit humanity. The old order however will not go quietly in the night and resistance to change will be sharply defended.
On the eve of what would surely be the war to end them all, a young couple think of the coming days as the great battle for a better world. Though from very different backgrounds Mexican-American and Pakistani Asian there is no doubting the strength of their beliefs or indeed their love
With her passion running as deep as her principles Sultana calls her mother to tell her of her plans to stay in America with Jesse as something wonderful was going to happen but the fight will begin soon. Her mother reminds her that is there is also fighting in her homeland and pleads with her to return home. Sultana however is headstrong and in love and has no intention of leaving Jesse behind for her mother or anyone else. This causes tension between Sultana and her mother though the familial bonds of love and loyalty remain strong across both cultures and generations.
At this point Sultana reminds her mother that though she lives in the west she still attends mosque and prays five tines a day and that Jesse understands the importance of her faith. Her mother however reminds her that she cannot marry outside the faith. Frustrated by rules and regulations Sultana reminds her mother that it was fine for her brother to marry a non Muslim and asks why her it’s different for girls Meanwhile Jesse’s condition is deteriorating as we hear flashbacks from his past conflicts and computerised voices telling young men to man up whilst other voices relate the tragic tale of a soldier having a break down and this forces upon on us the grim realisation that for some former combatants the war never ends and the permanent potential threat of post traumatic stress disorder stalks them like shadows in the middle of the darkest time of night.
Tackling these issues with the sensitivity they deserve David Lee Morgan asks much needed questions about both conflict and the role of masculinity within it. These are questions which need asking and cannot be ducked. These are questions which it a brave writer and performer to ask. Luckily David Lee Morgan is exactly that type of artist. He is an outstanding poet and musician who relishes challenging convention and saying the kind of topics I talk about are real and will not go away. He enjoys holding authority to account not by shouting or stamping his feet but opening your eyes to new possibilities such as the potential for a real global socialism to take root and as he showed with the ending of this play where he presents us with two roads and leaves the decision to us as to which will be the destination of our choice.
In this show as in all of Morgan’s work he shows the human spirit is capable of overcoming even the greatest of the obstacles as it triumphs in spite of itself and the barriers it so often puts in place to hinder the path to progress . That to me is the true mark of an artist of genuine substance and David Lee Morgan is such an artist.
Till next time.