Review: Can I Start Again Please, DaDaFest at Unity Theatre

Review: Can I Start Again Please
Unity Theatre,
part of DaDaFest 2016

Words, Melissa Dowell

Can I Start Again was performed at Unity Theatre as part of DaDaFest, a festival showing disability in the arts.

Having already gained critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, expectations were high and it did not disappoint.

The scene is pretty straightforward two women are sat next to each other wearing long dresses, both reading from text (reading from the same hymn sheet as was described in the Q&A after the show). Sue MacLaine begins to speak while Nadia Nadarajah translates through British sign language.

On the surface, this is a show about language. Encouraging the audience to contemplate how they use language, how language structures our lives and our thoughts. Listen a little harder and we find that the speaker is a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

The show represents how the use of language helped the speaker describe and accept the abuse that happened to her. Explained loosely through semantics and quotes from Wittgenstein proving that sometimes the hardest things can’t be spoken about at all. It’s hard for the speaker to talk about this trauma, it’s a subject that not everyone wants to listen to. There is hidden meaning in everything and maybe it takes a relatable quote for us to process what the speaker is trying to tell us.

There is a hidden meaning in the ringing of bells, whether the speaker is connoting alarm bells or that what they’re saying is as clever as a bell. The show must have been interpreted by each audience member in their own ways but one thing is for sure, we all thought hard and thought deep and the audience were always fully engaged in what Sue was saying and what Nadia was signing.

A very clever and very funny show, it made the audience think of the use of their own language, how the audience is supposed to interpret and understand what the speaker is saying and what the speaker means and that language is more than just spoken words. Audience participation was strongly encouraged, constantly keeping the audience and their minds engaged.

One thing is perfectly clear, this show is here to make us talk about what society doesn’t want to talk about. The speaker is in as she described “the aftermath of the bomb blast” she is ok and her and Nadia put on a beautiful show.

My mind was racing with thoughts about the show and about language long after the show had finished and I can’t remember the last time a performance had made me think like this and had such an effect.