Edinburgh Fringe

Issue section: 

Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is often at its most impressive when giving a voice to those suffering injustice.

Michael Milligan has been touring the US with Mercy Killers, a dramatisation of the medical debt catastrophe confronting many Americans. In a police interrogation room the character Joe furiously tries to explain the suspicious death of his wife.

She had become ill with a treatable condition, refused help by their insurance company and forced into heavy debt. They even divorce in an attempt to qualify for Medicaid.

The failure of the healthcare system shatters his once conservative contentment with the world, leaving him grieving the wife he deeply loved. In the US over half of bankruptcies are due to medical debt.

The rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in December 2012 on a Delhi bus sparked massive protests across India, and a determination by many women to break the silence about sexual abuse.

Yael Farber depicts these events in her play Nirbhaya, weaving the shocking testimonies of other victims, from India to the US around the events of that night and the protests that followed.

The play Silence in Court gave a powerful, interactive demonstration of some of the difficulties abused women face in trying to get justice. The show recreates a court, with audience volunteers forming a jury, to hear the case of a woman who alleges she was raped by a man she had just met in a club. The audience are then invited to discuss the evidence and vote "guilty" or "not guilty".

Thousands of people disappeared during the 1973 military coup in Chile. The title of Fermin Cabal's play Terjas Verdes is the name of the camp where many of these people were tortured and murdered. It traces Colorino, one of its imagined occupants, and those connected to her.

These include the doctor ready to lie about her cause of death, the informer broken by the torture of her six-year-old son and the Spanish lawyer arrogantly justifying the atrocities of the Pinochet regime.

The courageous Colorino ends the play with the hope that a time will come "when tyrants will weep tears of blood, ashamed before the magnitude of their crimes".

Since April the National Theatre of Wales has been touring The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, an impressionistic biography of the whistleblower. Scenes shift backwards and forwards between his school years in Wales, where he is exposed to its radical history, his arrest and torture by the US military, and the difficulties he faced being a transexual in a military hostile to homosexuality.

Having joined the army as a way to pay for college fees, he is horrified by the evidence of atrocities in Iraq. The show ends with him as a school student explaining to a teacher that he wants to join the US army to make the world a better place.

Nir Paldi's exciting cabaret style history of Israel and its occupation of Palestine opens with the engaging humour of the drag queen Star, a militaristic troupe of dancers called The Starlets, and a drummer named Camp David. A central event running through the piece is the killing of an unarmed, non-threatening Palestinian boy by an Israeli soldier.

Paldi explains that he wanted to "explore the identity crisis facing my homeland Israel (where) the victim identity is present everywhere you turn, but what is rarely talked about is the fact that Israel has become an occupier."

Daniel Blye's show is an optimistic and funny practical guide to protest. The audience is immediately set to work writing on placards for a demonstration.

We then follow the story of two characters whose initial objection to pollution by the oil companies leads them to join marches and eventually to occupy offices and oil rigs, the struggle changing their ideas on the way.

The show ends with the words, "We too can make a difference if we get out there and get in on a protest."