Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Sacré Blue is a performance piece devised by Zöe Murtagh and Victoria Copeland, and performed by Zöe Murtagh. Its subject matter is anxiety, which it explores through performance poetry, storytelling, and science.
Sacré Blue is a devised solo performance piece, performed by Zöe Murtagh, which aims to educate audiences about anxiety. It alternates between spoken word, a narrated story in a cinematic style reminiscent of Amélie, energetic dancing, talking about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, demonstrating exposure therapy exercises, basic scientific explanations of what anxiety is, and lessons learned from the 1986 film Labyrinth starring David Bowie. There are a couple points where the switch between sections happens rather abruptly, but I suspect this is in order to represent how the anxious brain functions.
The concept is based around the aim of seeking solidarity, understanding, and community between anxiety sufferers and non-sufferers alike. There are some clever and creative ideas for representing and explaining anxiety, such as acting as a living symptoms diagram by sticking symptoms to their relevant body parts with Velcro. I particularly enjoyed the list of things that make Murtagh anxious (it includes such items as ‘the price of stamps’ and ‘Donald Trump’), read off colourful flashcards which are then thrown all over the stage.
The piece is performative in style, but open about its theatrical nature. At various points, Murtagh makes friendly asides to the audience, for example explaining that she has to do something because of the risk assessment for the show, which works well for gaining the audience’s confidence. Her performance is delightful to watch and she comes across as immensely likeable.
Though the subject matter is serious, Sacré Blue nevertheless manages to be a fun, dynamic piece. The stage is colourfully decorated with yellow flowers adorning the clothesline (the purpose of which is unclear – presumably it’s just a handy way to add some colour and store props) and microphone. The soundtrack is a mixture of classical music, upbeat pop songs, and music that sounds like it might have come from the film Amélie; there is dancing.
Sacré Blue is an honest and informative look at anxiety. It becomes neither grim, as the serious subject might suggest, nor a tedious lecture in its quest to educate. It’s a highly entertaining show, with plenty of humour and theatricality, that is hard not to like.