I, Who Have Hands More Innocent
Heartfelt tribute to Croatian poet Vesna Parun
Are you ready to delve deep into the world of Croatian erotic poetry? The off-beat, off-kilter world of the Edinburgh Fringe is a perfect place to tackle such an outré subject, and I, Who Have Hands More Innocent certainly delivers in terms of presenting fresh and previously unknown material.
The title comes from a paraphrased line written by Vesna Parun, described in the show's adverts as 'the most famous female Croatian poet of all time', and powerfully embodied in this one-woman show by Vesna Tominac Matačić. In a simple white dress, and with little more than a map of the world and some torn paper in plastic bags, Parun's fierce spirit is evoked through excerpts taken from her own writings, which deal with her evolution as a woman and as an artist during and after WWII, and specifically with her struggles against the male patriarchy.
The language is strong, and it's clear that Parun took no prisoners in her search to speak the truth about her life. Matacic is more than up to the demands of the role, but there's some annoying technical issues to be resolved here; the subtitles are projected onto a curtain, the folds of which often obscure the words, and the translation is often poor; mention of 'metings', 'womanly sprong' and 'cerebral squelchness' are enough to send even fans of Joycean free-expression reaching for their thesaurus, and too often obscure the meanings of the original text.
That said, I, Who Have Hands More Innocent is likely to be of substantial interest to those interested in poetry, Croatian history or the struggle of women against men. It's just a shame that a little more care with the words wasn't taken for this demanding but eventually rewarding take on Parun's story to find the universal audience that it deserves.
ZOO, until 29 Aug, 7.25pm, £10 (£8).