Wednesday, 2 September 2009


27/8/09, St George's (Edinburgh Fringe)

Six women and four men from Cuba perform songs about Haiti ("the world's first black republic", but also "poor Haiti") in creole.

The women were matronly, two of them older and smaller than the others (one indeed was distinctly wizened); the men included one with an incredible bass voice (at one stage I thought there was a double bass hidden somewhere behind the stage). Everyone got to do at least one solo.

The music was African/European, but the harmonies not a patch on the South African ensembles to which some reviewers/previewers compare this one.

They wore long gold coloured, striped or patterned robes in the case of the ladies, and Hawaiian shirts for the lads.

The 11th member of the cast was a narrator in long trunks, white patterned body paint and a big straw hat, brandishing a paddle.

There was some audience interaction: clapping, shaking hands and so forth. The singing and accompanying percussion was amplified but at the end they came down without microphones and exited singing via the audience, which was sweet.

Most of the time you had no idea what they were singing about, which didn't help, though the narrator (speaking English) was helpful. At one point we were told many had escaped from Haiti to Cuba, the island of sugar. Cue a shout of pure Castroite joy.

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