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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Not just fluff at Edinburgh
Su, Beatle and Frogger
Su, Beatle and Frogger have picketed Starbucks
By BBC News Online's Olive Clancy in Edinburgh

There's a lot of frivolity to be found at the Edinburgh Festival.

But there is plenty to make you think as well, even as you roll on the floor with laughter, and audiences are lapping it up.

Take Cyderdelic, a trio of spoof theatrical eco-warriors - Su, Beetle and Frogger.

Salgado photograph
Salgado's image of a Kosovan refugee
Their Edinburgh show includes footage of their high-profile appearances at various anti-globalisation marches and protests.

These were the men responsible for the infamous "Replace Capitalism With Something Nicer" at the May Day riots.

Unfortunately all of the Cyderdelic crew refuse to speak to the press out of character and their explanations are often nonsensical.

The placard was intended as parody, but it was subsequently picked up by rightwing commentators who used it to "demonstrate" the woolly-headed nature of the anti-globalisation movement.

At the weekend they led a protest outside the coffee-shop chain Starbucks in Edinburgh and plan more around town during the festival.

The trio, you see, do have a point to make.

Though Beetle would refuse to comment as anything other than the vacuous character he plays on stage, he did let slip that they have a serious left-wing background.

Alyson Coote and Celia Meiras
Alyson Coote and Celia Meiras put in scorching performances
They want people to think about what they are doing.

They say that if they can do it in such a subversive and funny way, it furthers their cause.

The problem though, is taking the lads seriously - with a 10-point plan that includes "cut the traffic not the trees" and "make people realise that most foreigners and women can be as good as men".

Investigation

Another artist making a point about migration and globalization, albeit in a very different way, is the veteran Brazilian photographer Sebastićo Salgado.

His roving exhibition based on his six-year investigation into the phenomenon of mass migration.

The images are amazing, though it feels slightly uncomfortable to find beauty in photographs of such misery and deprivation.

I normally like a minimum of explanation at exhibitions of visual art, preferring to let the image, painting or work speak for itself, but the text is a necessary adjunct to the pictures, naming the people, telling you their stories.

We see the swooning mother of Oziel Pereira, one of a number of peasants murdered in the State of Para, Brazil.

We see the picturesque women and children of Ecuador in traditional costume, but we need the text to find that the highlands of that country are deserted of men who have left to find work elsewhere.

There is a room though, that has very little text.

Salgado photography
Salgado's work is at the City Art Centre till September
We are told that the children, face to camera all pestered Salgado to be photographed.

These are faces of extraordinary beauty, and I can only imagine there were many rejects, but we know nothing of who they are or even where they are from.

Salgado is an economist turned journalist and is often accused of exploiting the plight of individuals for his own end or the end of a story.

But then, what form of photojournalism is not this way.

Show me the person who could go to such an exhibition and not think about the individuals behind the iconic pictures.

Enthusiastic

The sentimentality of the images may be incongruous but if they get people in and get them thinking while they are there - so what?

A third outfit making a point, and getting positive reviews and enthusiastic audiences while they're at it is Company of Angels.

Their show Hannah and Hanna tells the story of two 16 year olds who like pop music.

They meet in Margate, but Hanna is a Kosovan refugee.

The work is aimed at young people and as such lacks the subtlety of the recent refugee-in-Margate film, the excellent Last Resort.

But it is still an energetic, moving performance, with a story to tell.

Hannah moves from being a text-book racist through the discovery that she might have a lot in common with a refugee to a final scene when she - persecuted by her former friends for being "English scum" - wants to seek asylum in Kosovo.

The story is funny, charming, beautifully acted and - most of the time - believable.

And an exploration of the tension in a small town when refugees arrive could not be more topical.

Now here is a way to make a point.

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Hannah and Hanna audience member
'Emotional, extremely moving'
Hannah and Hanna audience member
'Brilliant, such energy'
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