Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

Review: Who Cares at Summerhall

Review: Who Cares at Summerhall

A passionate and political story of three young carers as they struggle to balance school life with the responsibilities of looking after sick or disabled family members. Through these characters’ personal monologues, the show aims to shed light on the ways that young carers are overlooked by the government and neglected by society.

Nicole rebels at school as she struggles to care for her mother who suffered a stroke when Nicole was only four, Jade dutifully cares for her deaf brother and paralysed father after they were abandoned by her mother, whilst Connor grapples with his own health as he tries to care for both his mother’s mental health and father’s physical health. Using interjections of monologues from social workers and government officials that present depressing statistics about how government cut-backs have affected the lives of young carers, the show’s message is clear and consistent.

At times, however, the show feels repetitive as the determination to drive the message home is prioritised over opportunities for more subtle character developments, with the three main characters somewhat reduced to the characterisation of ‘generic teenager’. And whilst the task of playing a range of characters exclusively through monologues is no mean feat, there is a constant tone of desperation to the acting style from the start which renders the climactic moments less moving.

Cringe-inducing moments also include a dance scene where the three hold hands wearing onesies that feels particularly forced, but the overall power of the performance is saved by poignant moments such as Nicole’s recounting of her mother’s suicide attempts. Ultimately, the show feels entirely geared towards presenting its message, and in that respect, it cannot be flawed.

Who Cares, Summerhall, 8-25 Aug (not 12), 6.20pm