By Arran Wylde-Eccles
Nasty Girls – Succulent Theatre Collective
Nasty was a long-awaited show on my list. I’d planned to see it at Camden’s People Theatre back in the ‘pingdemic’ but unfortunately, the NHS covid app had different plans for me. But over a year later, I finally saw the girls in action for my first show at the Fringe. Nasty tackles issues with weight, eating disorders, family and being a ‘big girl.’ I walked into this performance expecting a sad, autobiographical show but instead was met with something greater than I ever could have imagined. Make no mistake, this show is full of heartbreaking moments but in equal measures, laughter, happiness and a penetrating atmosphere of self-acceptance too. The beauty of what Rio Montana Topley and Amy Stephenson-Yankuba created is that they refuse to let you shed a tear for too long. The true stories of body image and relationships with food were contrasted with tales of masturbation, pooing and other laugh-out-loud examples of storytelling. Nasty represents what independent theatre should be with a down-to-earth, charismatic approach. I wasn’t the only one in the audience who walked away impressed and excited for the future of the Succulent Theatre Collective.
Oedipus Electronica – Pecho Mama
First of all, wow. Second of all, holy shit. I walked away from Oedipus Electronica completely inspired as a theatre maker and reminded of exactly why I and my fellow thespians do what we do. Pecho Mama creates a compelling modern take of Oedipus with a soundtrack and set that I will be thinking about for years. The set featured many exciting qualities that fully utilised every inch of the stage, including a two-way mirror and live electronic music, making an intense, jaw-dropping experience. Oedipus Electronica revealed the intimate and vulnerable aspects of a playwright’s process, as well as touching sentiments of grief and parallels of pregnancy and a story inside a writer, and how sometimes you must let it go, lest it destroys you. The performances were also some of the best I’ve seen, particularly from Ryan Harston, who devoured his character and descended into utter chaos from start to finish. I sometimes wondered if the sheer force of his performance would destroy the objects around him, and I loved every second of it. Oedipus Electronica is a stunning example of compelling theatre.
Midnight Snacks – Featuring Alice Cockayne & Dee Allum
Welcomed by our host, Comrie Saville-Ferguson, Midnight Snacks was one of my favourite shows at Edinburgh Fringe. Starting with a soothing song that acknowledged the drab and mundane expectations of everyday life, the show involved the audience throughout as Comrie asked us a series of questions that led to some hysterical improvisation scenes and comedy sets that made my stomach hurt. Alice Cockayne’s surreal performance immersed the audience directly and saw her take on the role of an ice cream lady, a dog owner and a memorable performer in this year’s Fringe. Cockayne’s style of comedy is one I enjoyed, silliness and surrealism are two things that often go hand-in-hand, yet I still had never experienced anything like it, nor could I predict what would happen next. I’d had the pleasure of seeing Dee Allum, a transgender comedian, in another comedy show at the Fringe and although some of the material was similar in both sets, I laughed just as hard the second time around. I thoroughly enjoyed the heartfelt aspects of storytelling throughout her performance and the focus on her transition. Dee’s performance demonstrated that transgender people can exist at the heart of comedy with good nature, and how if dealt with sensitively and directly from the community, it can provide a hilarious and insightful adventure. And to top it all off, all proceedings were donated to the charity MIND; money well spent.
The Mr Thing Show
Chaotic, endearing and full of clever nonsense, the Mr Thing Show is an absolute riot. With a multimedia extravaganza, The Mr Thing Show plunges the audience into a made-up game show that randomly chooses audience members based on a small questionnaire you fill out at the beginning. Full of twists, cameras, vegetable puns and a lot of obscure references, this is a show that although I have chosen to review, there are not enough words in the dictionary to describe how I felt when watching it. All I can suggest is that if you’re looking for something utterly insane and amazingly funny, you should experience this cult classic for yourself at next year’s Fringe. Just like myself and the rest of the audience, you shan’t be disappointed and you may very well walk away wondering ‘What the hell did I just watch and when on earth can I see it again?’