Streaming now on the Summerhall Online platform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Fow is a very clever and engaging love story from a deaf-led perspective. Lissa (Stephanie Back, who had the original idea for the show), Siôn (Jed O’Reilly) and Josh (Ioan Gwyn) are the characters who collide together in this quirky and inventive tale, which is trilingual (using BSL, Welsh and English) to explore issues around miscommunication in a light-hearted and fun way.
Co-produced by Deaf & Fabulous and Taking Flight with Theatrau Sir Gar/Welfare Ystradgynlais, and written by Alun Saunders, Fow includes animation, sound, colour and a quickfire style to really bring its story to life. Fully captioned and signed throughout, and presented in a two act structure, this is a real highlight of the digital fringe. It is very, very funny, with characters that pop from the screen through well-crafted performances, yet never makes fun of those it depicts.
Other characters are presented through cut-out drawings, while a low-key musical theme as our characters find their way to connect. Fow may seem a long commitment at a 1 hour 45 minutes running time, but it races by on the quality of the writing and the direction which does not try to create either a traditional ‘Zoom play’ or a piece of theatre on screen. It isn’t a film either, but something that has come out of a time where creativity was forced online.
The title, Lissa explains, comes from “something going over your head, when you don’t understand’. To me, as a native of Lancashire, the word fow means foul or ugly; for other regions, it means drunk. Here it can also mean the unpleasantries that come with families (Lissa and Josh are siblings, but their communication is poor despite knowing each other all their lives). He is more connected to the world of online gaming than with real people.
The second half of Elise Davison’s production becomes more serious than playful, with a deep emotional connection between all three and an understanding of what ‘being shut out’ and ‘losing your voice’ means. It may not be perfect, but it is a start – and I may have just had a tear in my eye by the end. This is a production that stands as a highlight of the festival so far.
Fringe rating: *****
You can stream Fow on the Summerhall Online platform until the end of August – book your ticket here.