Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Ardent Theatre premieres Lucy Benson-Brown in this one-woman show that intertwines themes including the difficult 20’s years, family relationships, the power of the media and tragedy, all through the medium of the musician Kate Bush. Whilst emptying a cupboard for charity, Cathy finds a box of albums containing Kate Bush’s first album, “The Kick Inside”. This triggers a series of memories and inner demons that she uses YouTube to exorcise, and it’s these postings with their Kate Bush soundtrack that propel her story.
It’s Cathy’s 27th birthday. She shares the date, 30 July, with Emily Bronte and Kate Bush. Her mother, a serious Kate Bush fan, sees this as a sign and so names her child after Bronte’s Wuthering Heights heroine and Kate Bush’s first hit single. Whilst sorting out donations for charity, Cathy discovers the well-played album and this begins her personal journey that reveals to us who she really is. Broadcasting her musings on YouTube, she tells how she and her mother often danced around the room to Wuthering heights whilst mimicking Bush’s choreography and dramatic wailings.
These were happy carefree times, unlike the way she now feels about her father and his fairly recent wife. Cathy is struggling with being 27 and what she feels she should have achieved by now. She reminisces of a time when, aged 8, she entered a local talent contest. After reciting part of Wind in the willows, and encouraged by her mother, she opts to sing, “The Man with the Child in his Eyes”. Unfortunately, the ridicule by some local children caused her to publicly humiliate herself and, although her mother was fiercely proud of her, Cathy utters the fateful words “I hate you”. It’s not unusual for a small child to shout angrily at their parent, but sadly this precedes her mother’s first (of many) suicide attempts, for which Cathy feels wholly responsible. Further attempts to find her artistic side also end in disaster. These include an aptly named but boring piano teacher, Mrs Major, receiving a hearty slap in the face, and a ballet class which ends in her cutting the blood supply off to her legs. Her frequent, and at times alcohol fuelled, broadcasts all lead up the inevitable – her mother’s final and successful suicide and Cathy’s guilty role in it.
This is a dark but comic piece despite suicide playing its part, decorated with timeous swear words. The extremely likeable Benson-Brown cheekily pouts and sulks while her tale unfolds, relishing the task of relating the points where she feels badly done to. She is interrupted throughout by voicemails from friends who are checking up on her and trying to entice her out to socialise, but as the momentum picks up she becomes obsessed by her own story.
There are some truly funny and clever moments with a hairdryer and helium balloon as the actress dances her way to the climax. The Kate Bush songs she’s selected enhance her story and characters depth – she ignores her boyfriend’s repeated requests to meet, yet her soundtrack is Bush’s unashamedly sensuous, ‘’Feel It”, substituting the physical contact she shies away from.
Clearly a dancer, Lucy Benson-Brown, emerges like a butterfly from a chrysalis to Kate Bush’s “Red Shoes, showing that she is capable of dramatic comedy and physical theatre, and she uses the track for maximum impact. As well as some eerily good impersonations, she also includes poignant film footage that keeps the pace moving. It’s a strong piece with pockets of amusement that the audience fall into at times, trapped there until she chooses to lead you out along her tempestuous emotional route.