Self-Raising at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★★
Graeae Artistic Director Jenny Sealey delivers a generous warm hug of a show which explores family secrets and the power of truth-telling.
Jenny Sealey steps on to the Fringe stage alongside interpreter Jude Mahon (on our visit) for this poignant, affecting show about the lies that bind families together. At the heart of Sealey’s story is her realisation that Anne Fine’s book Flour Babies holds a special resonance for her, given discoveries she made about her parents after the death of her father.
Told with warmth and humour, but not dodging some hard-hitting aspects of growing up deaf in a hearing world, Sealey’s story – and her performance – are as captivating as they are inspirational, and though many audience members will likely consider their family history to be far more prosaic, most will be able to identify with the themes of honesty, deception, the power of a secret held, and the cathartic release of a secret shared.
Aside from the main narrative, it is still – sadly – uncommon for a deaf woman to take centre stage for an hour of theatre. Sealey’s may be the first such show many audiences have experienced, and they will leave with insight not only into how a deaf person must adapt to living in a hearing world, but how that world often seems to do its worst to make life even harder.
Having said all of that, Self-Raising is not a show about all deaf people. It is a show about a deaf woman, whose story – whilst deeply personal – should resonate with a wide range of audiences.
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