Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 Theatre Review: Baklâ (Summerhall) ★★★★

A searing exploration of colonialism, identity and sexuality, Max Percy’s solo show examines intergenerational trauma and its effect on the modern Filipino.

Max Percy in Baklâ. Photo Credit: Northwall Arts Centre.

Max Percy is an engaging performer, whether talking with ease to the audience or affecting a breathtaking piece of rope work. Both skills are utilised in full in this thought-provoking physical theatre show, which asks if sex and sexuality can be used to make sense of who you are when religion has been used to oppress and subjugate your communities.

Many different styles are utilised in this piece, with transitions that seem, at times, to be intentionally jarring. The performance elements are intercut with adverts about skin whitening, Catholic iconography and real video footage, anchoring it in the now whilst drawing on Percy’s lived experience. The movement sections that are always so strong in Percy’s work are viceral and affecting: incorporating Butoh dance, he weaves pre-colonial ceremonies with narrative about the arrival of the Spanish and the impact on the Philippines that still resonates today.

Max Percy in Baklâ. Photo Credit: Northwall Arts Centre.

The beauty of the festival is finding work that entertains, educates and changes perspective. Baklâ does all of this and more, highlighting a reality that few will be familiar with and making the audience just the right type of uncomfortable.

By Deborah Klayman

Baklâ plays at Summerhall, Edinburgh until 27th August 2023.

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: