Zoo Playground (venue)
04 August 2023 (released)
29 August 2023
The Edinburgh Fringe 2023 might be over, but there’s still a couple of shows/performers worth mentioning. Over the next few days, we will highlight some of these artists in our ‘Best of the Fringe’ category and we start with London-based Mandi Chivasa, whose highly original and thought-provoking one-woman show BEASTS – WHY GIRLS SHOULDN’T FEAR THE DARK won her the coveted ‘Fringe First’ award! Not bad for someone who participated in the almighty annual festival for the very first time!
In BEASTS, Mandi Chivasa takes on the part of Ruva, a young woman of Zimbabwean origin whose world is thrown into chaos when one evening, after working yet another miserable shift in her local Pizza Hut joint under supervision of her a**hole of a boss, finds herself stalked on her way home. To be precise, Ruva waits at the bus stop as usual but suddenly, a car turns up and seems to stop where she stands. Rather unnerved, Ruva decides to walk on instead of hanging around waiting for the bus but hey ho, the car keeps on following her. Eventually, she reaches the safety of her home and neighbourhood (is it really safe though?) but has another rough awakening when the next day, she comes to realise that the police to whom she reports the incident don’t seem to be much interested. Just another of many stalker cases in the capital! Are the coppers going to investigate further by checking the CCTV cameras in the very street where the incident occurred or will they be sending patrols out to monitor the area? Of course not – too busy too busy too busy!
Perhaps Ruva’s skin colour might have something to do with it, perhaps not. Will neighbours get together to form some sort of vigilante group and protect the women in their neighbourhood from getting stalked or worse? Suddenly, everyone either seems to be indifferent or they don’t take Ruva’s concerns seriously. That’s London for you alright!
Raging against a system that lets her down and a society which doesn’t seem to give a toss, Ruva decides to take matters into her own hands and by doing so, unleashes her inner BEAST… It’s a beast that harks back to her Zimbabwean upbringing and beliefs where her Gogo (that’s grandma) told her magical tales of the Shumba (meaning lion) and the consequent worshipping and praise of Maita Shumba – the lion totem which they praise. With a renewed energy and with a feeling of empowerment - and fearless like a lion - Ruva feels ready to take on the beastly creatures that lurk in the night, ready to stalk their prey. Could it be that Ruva underestimated her own strength?
BEASTS combines spoken word with rage against the machine and intertwines these concerns with strong beliefs instilled into her by her Gogo.
It’s a highly unique and flawlessly delivered show which doesn’t merely entertain but should make us think in more ways than just one.
The Edinburgh Fringe can’t wait to welcome Mandi Chivasa back next year – meanwhile, follow her on Facebook @womxnxarts.