Foreign Radical @ King's Hall

Foreign Radical sees 30 participants take part in an immersive performance exploring privacy and freedom of expression in the age of cybersurveillance

Review by Cat Acheson | 15 Aug 2017

Theatre Conspiracy have created a boundary-pushing new work in Foreign Radical, a show which interrogates surveillance, racial profiling, and the abuse of private information. Central to this immersive performance is its critique of our own biases and behaviours. The audience are active participants in a bemusing but harrowing “game”, in which we are led into a dark, curtained labyrinth and presented with various strands of information that we must interpret in order to decide the fate of a young man detained at the border on suspicion of having terrorist links.

The performance is unquestionably sinister, from the exaggerated game show host character, to the polarising decisions the audience are incited to make. While the overall effect may suffer, somewhat, from the fact that Edinburgh Fringe audiences are likely to be predominantly left-wing, there’s a surprising amount of scope for experimenting with different ways of thinking. And while the individual games are engaging and bizarrely fun, the performance is underlined by the sense of fear and degradation experienced by the young man whose civil liberties are on the line. The effect is an uneasy mix of political awareness and cognitive dissonance that isn’t far away from the attitudes we adopt towards privacy and freedom in our daily lives.

Foreign Radical feels a little rough around the edges, and yet its extremely ambitious approach to exploring sensitive political issues should be praised. Certainly worth seeing for anyone who wants to be taken out of their comfort zone and forced to reflect on some uncomfortable truths about the world in which we live. 

Foreign Radical, CanadaHub @ King’s Hall in Association with Summerhall, until 27 Aug (not 24th), sold out