Edinburgh Fringe 2014
When you get to 80, it’s easier to see the bigger picture, according to Lynn Ruth Miller. You live for the present – not the past or the future. A salutary lesson for all.
Lynn Ruth Miller really is 80, she assures us. But if I’d asked her the question “how old would you like to tell me you are”, I wonder what reply I would have got? Probably a number less than her true age, I suspect, given the obvious zest she has for life despite the veritable plethora of vicissitudes it has thrown at her.
Normally associated with the outrageous comedy and songs from her award-winning cabaret show, Granny’s Gone Wild, this part raconteur, part chanteuse instead takes us on a meandering, reflective review of her time on this planet. We ease from her earliest memories (and hatred of milk) through a series of near life-ending accidents and illnesses to her current state which, to me at least, appeared to be that of someone really content in her own skin, living for the now and a shining example to the younger generation that age is an attitude, not a number.
And it was the younger generation that made up the majority of her audience in the intimate surroundings of C Nova’s venue in India Buildings. But why should this be? With the majority of Fringe shows seemingly populated by actors barely out of short trousers (or the female equivalent), were they curious, perhaps, that someone of bus pass age could still prove entertaining?
Well Lynn Ruth was certainly entertaining, and educative too. The challenges of her early years, dealing with a domineering Jewish matriarch of a mother, soon paled into insignificance as she battled depression, bulimia, serious metabolic issues, major facial reconstruction surgery following a serious car crash and a series of “car crash” relationships and marriages. And all this before she hit her fifties. It would be enough to send most people heading for a lot of pills or an early grave, or both.
Yet her story is told without self-pity or regret. What comes across instead is gentle self-deprecation, mature reflection on what she’s been through, what it taught her and an iron will to survive and prosper. The poignancy of her attempts to find a match by one year throwing Valentine cards at the contents of her address book was matched by the pathos evident in her voyage of self-discovery that started as she approached what one might describe as her more mature years.
This was a moving story, engagingly told in a way that seductively enveloped the audience. By her own admission, Lynn Ruth has come late to the world of professional entertainment, finally setting foot on stage only when she’d passed her biblically allotted three score years and ten. Who cares. She’s obviously happy and very clearly not dead yet. Long may that continue. Lynn Ruth Miller is definitely worth listening to.