EdFringe 2022 Review: Bogeyman

The haunting reminders of colonialism and enslavement are explored in Lagahoo Productions’ Bogeyman, which shares: “Our modern life was built on the backs of the oppressed – if they were to demand repayment, would you be afraid?” Taking residence in the Pleasance Dome this Edinburgh Fringe, Bogeyman brings music, dance, history, and food for thought in this tale of rebellion.

Four young storytellers explore the 1791 Haitian Revolution, blending a narrative that spans past and present. Centring on a voodoo ceremony that aimed to end enslavement on the island, Bogeyman delves into the Haiti’s battle to end colonisation from its French oppressors, and ultimate assert itself as the first Caribbean republic.

Bogeyman successfully captures the complex political history of Haiti in a vibrant and imaginative way. Utilising a narrative set in the present with confident accounts from a cast including Deshaye Gayle, Jacoba Williams, Hosanna Johnson and Nicholas Marrast Lewis, who detail their accounts in an accessible, imaginative manner. Providing recreations of key moments from the revolution amidst the contemporary narrative helps bring these historical events further clarity leaving the audience with a full insight into the details of the Haitian Revolution.

Bogeyman successfully taps into Western-created misconceptions regarding voodoo trying to disassociate it from the image produced by Western mythology and the horror genre. This leads to a wider discussion on vampirism, zombies and other ghoulish creations centred around an ‘other’ aiming to threaten Western moral, political or social stability. Yet those seeking genre thrills will find grisly entertainment in recreations of the fate that befell invading French soldiers in the tropical climate or plots from Haitian revolutionaries to poison plantation owners.

The lingering stains of colonialism on the UK also come under fire, with a powerful present day sequence lead by Jacoba Williams which lays into the remnants of British imperial rule from location names to technologies created as a role of slave labour.

Bogeyman’s cast bring a real gusto to the fold, enthusiastically sharing stories of the Haitian Revolution. They bring a further vibrancy to their storytelling by infusing performances with music and dance including a closing song. There is a playful rivalry among the four performers often questioning one another or adding on-stage disagreements about how the story should be shared, which is a fun touch.

Bogeyman sheds light on a fascinating piece of Caribbean history, celebrating a powerful act of rebellion of freedom fighters versus oppressors. Bogeyman evaluates Western created misconceptions and shines a light on the harsh realities and aftermath of colonialism, yet remains accessible thanks to its vibrancy and energy.

Bogeyman runs until August 29th as part of the Edinburgh Fringe at the Pleasance Dome. Get tickets here.

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