EDINBURGH 2023: Review: WAITING FOR A TRAIN AT THE BUS STOP, Summerhall

A poignant exploration of manipulation, coercive control, and domestic violence infused with poetry and Zambian flair.

By: Aug. 05, 2023
EDINBURGH 2023: Review: WAITING FOR A TRAIN AT THE BUS STOP, Summerhall
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EDINBURGH 2023: Review: WAITING FOR A TRAIN AT THE BUS STOP, Summerhall Chilufya, Chili for short, is trying to define her breakup. With a quick-fire monologue and a sardonic personality, Mwansa Phiri takes us on a dramatic journey performed by Yaisa that looks into the feeling of being wanted and the tragedy of being wired to crave companionship as a young woman. Her stream of consciousness leads the narrative as we meet the figures who populate her life. When an old friend starts to give her attention, she’s hesitant to accept it, but quickly gives in. Everybody loves Paul, especially her family. Her best friend, however, is concerned. Chili becomes increasingly isolated and her boyfriend turns into an invisible force that pushes her around and pressures her into having sex. As Phiri detours from this main storyline, she shares the trappings of her heritage and the expectations that come from the teachings of the older generations.

The poet and director crafts a poignant exploration of manipulation, coercive control, and domestic violence, infusing it with poetic interludes that are the definite highlight of the project. The story of her immigrant parents and the fables told by her family fragment the sad descent into an abusive relationship. This, unfortunately, pulls the focus off the main issue and, instead of providing moments of lightness and the chance to venture into other grounds, anchors the piece down. They provide the actor with a great opportunity by allowing her to show her range and broaden the scope of the tale, but they prevent the performance from being tonally cohesive.

The flair of Zambian oral tradition adds vibrancy to the experience, but the themes she tackles with it stray from the core of the subject and aren’t as immediate as they should be. Although her production is somewhat uneven, Phiri exhibits wide-ranging talent. Projections make sure that the visuals are varied and exciting, while the direction is uniform and strong. She is a gifted writer with an undoubtedly shiny future ahead.

Waiting for a train at the bus stop runs at Summerhall on the following dates: 5-13, 15-20, 22-27 August.




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