If you have ever wondered what goes on at a Far Right gathering, you will be in good company at Salty Irina. Following a newly minted queer couple into the belly of the beast, this tale shows their loss of innocence, and how they are galvanised into enduring action.
Set in an unnamed city in Northern Europe, where a number of racially-motivated murders have recently taken place, Eve Leigh’s Salty Irina is a well-intentioned and engaging play. Having discovered blood on the steps of her home, Eireni (Yasemin Özdemir) meets Anna (Hannah Van Der Westhuysen) and a relationship begins to blossom. Compelled to discover who is behind the killings, the teenage lovers take up a challenge from a cantankerous crusty, and head to the fascist festival to see what they can uncover. This is clearly unwise, but donning some more suitable clothing, the pair feel they have disguised themselves sufficiently, and accept a lift from a trio of Nazi-loving brothers.
The lyrical quality of the early part of the play is mesmeric, introducing the characters and the world that they inhabit. A world not a million miles from our own. The slightly stylised movement adds much to this, but once the pair arrive at the festival there is a marked change in tone that is not entirely welcome. Francesca Knight makes an impact as Far Right recruiter, Jana, injecting a real sense of danger into the piece, but although the whole premise is intriguing the story does not really pay off in a satisfying way.
There is much to commend this production. All three actors give truthful performances, while Debbie Hannan’s direction is thoughtful, making best use of the space. The themes too are important, highlighting the power of legitimate protest and community organising to combat the rise of fascism. The story, perhaps, just needs a little more of the believability that the actors bring to the table.
By Deborah Klayman
Salty Irina plays at Summerhall until August 27th, 2023.