Louder is Not Always Clearer (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Louder is Not Always Clearer

credit: Kirsten McTernan

A romp through one man's adventures and challenges

The wave of autobiographical performance at the Fringe might suggest that theatre's function is changing. Once the domain of fantastic stories, it is increasingly dominated by works that present lived experiences without the necessity for the formal properties or tropes of traditional genres. Louder is not Always Clearer is a strong example of an emerging genre, the autobiographical show that addresses a wider social issue. Jonny Cotsen offers a personal glimpse into life as a deaf man and combines rhetorical force with a winning charm and plenty of anecdotes.

The idiosyncrasy of Cotsen's experience is crucial. The hilarity of awkward dates, the desire of his family to deny his condition, the descriptions of how the internet provides a social outlet are all catalogued, revealing the political meanings of these apparently diffuse subjects. There is an elegance in their unveiling, a deep structure that appears ramshackle but collects fragments of experience and coalesces them into a clear statement of individuality.

The pace can be relentless, as Cotsen leaps between events and reflects on how his mother has treated him. Throughout, he is positive and witty, allowing the polemical intentions to be carried along by a sense of fun and joy. Bracingly unapologetic and accepting, Louder argues for the importance of this new genre while presenting an insight into life experiences that are often hidden by either paternalistic concern or social ignorance.

Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 19), 2.30pm, £10 (£8).

Louder Is Not Always Clearer

  • 4 stars

Moving one-man dance work about the stigma of disability, centred around Jonny, a deaf man who loves to sing and dance.