EDINBURGH EDITION – Day four (23 August)

Love (Watching Madness), Pleasance Courtyard

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

There are quite a few shows about maternal relationships at the Fringe this year, many of them about how our mothers f**k us up. None I’ve seen is told with as much compassion as Isabelle Kabban’s story about living with a mother with bipolar.

There’s almost so much love and compassion here that there’s little room left for grit as Kabban recounts tales of her mum throwing trifle at her friend when she was fourteen and conversations when her mum feels judged by her as a late teen, while she spoons day-old spaghetti into her mouth, having not washed for three days.

It’s a simple, tenderly told show where Kabban’s distress is expressed through arm-wringing gestures set to heavy metal music and struggles through scenes in which her mother becomes increasingly distant and impassive. (Kabban pays her mother as being nearly emotionless, with a blank expressionless face).

She falls back on the trope of talking to a therapist to reveal the trauma that her mother caused and frustration about not being able to ‘fix’ her. But while the show doesn’t seem particularly original, Kabban’s performance is sincere and heartfelt and she is magnetically watchable.

Do Our Best, Underbelly Cowgate

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Supremely confident Sephy can deal with anything, including the challenges of being in the girl guides, bullying and badge-winning. She’s attempting to win her performers and entertainers badge for the fourth time running, aged 30 – and we are treated to a rather long preamble about how devastatingly wonderful this performance will be before we discover the heartache behind her egotistical facade.

Remy Beasley writes and performs this clever show in which the sanctuary of the girl guides is a shelter from the desolation Sephy feels at the loss of her mother. The writing only gets better as the play progresses and Sephy’s supreme egotism ebbs away to reveal a lost girl looking for a hug in all the wrong places.

Remy Beasley is a mischievous performer, who seems to love making her audience squirm. She insults and manipulates key audience members with a knowing twinkle in her eye as she weaves a story about the keenly felt embarrassments of childhood. It’s funny and painful and beautiful and disastrous – and well worth an hour of your time.

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