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The Canadian Inuit plight is given a stage with a powerful advocacy

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools
The Studio, Edinburgh
★★★★

 

BUDDIES in Bad Times Theatre Company claims to be Toronto’s leading destination for artistic and alternative theatre and a world leader in developing queer voices. Certainly singer-songwriter Evalyn Parry, and Inuit artist and performer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, bring something different to the Edinburgh Festival.

Their show rather than drama — although it is quite dramatic enough — is a mixture of convivial but instructive conversation, story and songs relating to the lives of these two Canadians from separate worlds, and explosive anger directed at the audience designed to illustrate the strangling colonial oppression of Bathory’s Inuit people, especially their women
 

Kiinalik, an Inuit word meaning the knife is sharp, is a powerful attack on capitalism’s voracious destruction of our world’s ecology in its drive to develop the pristine frozen north.

Cellist Cris Derksen’s electronically complemented music provides a powerful commentary throughout.

When the audience have been lulled into a relaxed ease imbibing the  geographical, historical and parallel but contrasted family histories of the two delightful performers, Bathory launches into a uaajeerneq, a Greenlandic mask dance terrifying those whom she crawls over, sexually taunting and aggressively keening, like some demented All Black rugby player revelling in her haka.

Transformed in seconds back to the genial performer we knew, she explains that this traditional dance is to prepare the northern peoples to face the fear of exploitation and displacement they have come to expect.

The audience are asked early on what the north means to them. By the time they leave they understand more about a threatened culture and an environment, a message that speaks a warning to all of us.

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