Isobel Stuart reviews 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE at the Edinburgh Fringe.
A poetic and musical collaboration of bold new writing, these girls have created a must-see show exploding with raw talent. Exploring race, gender, sexuality, love, language and faith, these girls and their guests had the audience laughing, crying and clicking until their fingers hurt.
Unrestrained, 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE individually convey poems of strength and vulnerability. Sunnah Khan, Roshni Goyate, Sheena Patel and Sharan Hunjan share their complex relationships with language, gender, sex, and the streets (and smells) of their hometowns. When performing, they stand together. As each one reads, those not performing stand back and hold each other. The sense of pride in their work was palpable.
Whilst mostly a spoken word show, guests included feminist musician Nadia Javed of The Tuts. Nadia doesn’t just touch on the lack of Asian female representation in punk music (and the music industry in general), but punches it in the face, whilst riffing it like a total badass. Guest Sanah Ahsan talks faith, gender and the psychological affects of being young and queer. As she unwrapped the ignorance, pain and heartbreak surrounding impregnation and motherhood in a same-sex female relationship, I found myself in tears. Tanaka Fuego eloquently dropped on us a series of powerful poems about self-acceptance, a mothers love, being trans and, most zealously, therapy in a barbershop. He had the whole audience laughing and learning.
Performing to a full house, every artist displayed an abundance of talent when it came to their writing and riffing. Well rehearsed, passionate, energetic and emotional, their deliveries were sensational. Continuously cheering each other on from the side, they created an atmosphere of love and support. It felt like these performers were so confident with their material and the work of their fellow artists that they didn’t need the approval of any audience, that they undoubtedly deserve to be on that stage. It was empowering.
The environment lent itself to improvisation and allowed for waves of creative freedom. They could ‘read the room’ and adjust, with Roshni Goyate admitting to changing things up a little, gifting us a comedic yet emotional poem about one night stands.
With their conviction and enthusiasm, 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE has provided us with an insight that is all too rare on white, middle-class platforms like the Fringe. These girls deserve to take up more space at platforms like this. They blew me away and I definitely consider myself lucky to have seen this show on it’s all too short run at the Fringe.