Edinburgh Fringe 2015
We are invited to watch Saskia’s transformation into herself which shall be achieved with Elena’s help. We start with some odd and sharply observed interaction between the self deluded and the delusional hoping for certainty in their lives. Elena has constructed a performance out of helping people achieve rebirth whilst Saskia is eager to be reborn. We then go through a variety of set pieces that include the audience reading out phrases and sayings to help us understand the theories of this self help philosophy as well as Saskia being stripped bare – metaphorically and literally – before being covered in glitter.
Both Saskia and Elena are welcoming us as we enter. Dressed all in white they appear like visions as the screen in front of us shows inspirational messages with pictures of places designed to make us feel inspired. Elena continues the welcome as she introduces the concept and the ceremony where the awkward Saskia is ready to become reborn as her own Goddess. It becomes increasingly uncomfortable as Elena shows herself to be equally needy and pushes Saskia to the side constantly as she craves our attention. It ends with Saskia down to her underwear, covering herself in glitter before Helena returns in a stunning dress glistening with glitter as a Goddess coming to gaze upon her subjects.
As a testimony of the banality of many a self help programme this was bang on. With trite meaningless phrases and two clearly desperate human beings this was an examination of how the vulnerable become embroiled in programmes that, on any surface appear to be sincere programmes of growth but turn out to be hollow and exploitative.
The performances are sharply observed and the best bit about them was the way both Elena and Saskia worked the relationship between them to show how the abuse of one by the other was symbiotic.
The narrative did begin to get a little absurd at the beginning, building to clear nonsense by the end. If you don’t get caught at the beginning though you can feel a lost by the end of it all. The set pieces are well worked and you do get the sense of the claustrophobic nature of programmes that once you have been hooked may not be able to deliver on their massive promises.
As a stripped down examination of how to be better this was a good hour’s long dissection of it. Theatrically there is plenty to admire and feel comfortably uncomfortable in their presence. At times I felt a little outside of things as the absurdity built but overall there was enough to keep me included and involved.