Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Party girl Brenda is a regular at Cork’s clubs, dancing on the tables and making friends with strangers. She’s desperately in love with her gorgeous girlfriend Olivia. She’s loyal to her no-nonsense best friend Veronica who rescued her from sleeping on the streets when her sister kicked her out of the family home after discovering her homosexuality. But in this extended monologue about obsession, loss, homophobia and mental health, it slowly becomes evident that Brenda is directionless and deep in denial.
It’s the carefully observed attention to detail that makes Drip Feed, shortlisted for the Verity Bargate award, such a strong script. The idiosyncrasies of the people in Brenda’s life are wittily described, from the local man John who is obsessed with asking Brenda a multitude of ridiculous questions about being gay – “Do you not miss men? Who fixes things when they break?”-to her best friend Veronica who purchases teddy bears from local charity shops because they have such “sad eyes”.
In this queer tale, it’s Brenda’s relationships with women – her love Olivia, friend Veronica and sister Rita – that are most important. After a big night out, Brenda wakes up on an all-too-familiar doorstep and the truth of her relationship with the glorious Olivia is revealed. Tragically, her own instability means she’s unable to be there for Veronica when her mental health is at its most fragile. At her lowest, there’s a bittersweet interaction with her sister Rita, whose concern for keeping up appearances to her friends and neighbours wins out over her concern for her sister.
Cogan’s blunt humour and connection with the audience lift this bleak tale of the struggles of coping with homophobia and rejection out of the realms of pure tragedy. Her performance is natural and sincere, and she invokes simultaneous empathy and frustration we watch her Brenda struggle to pull herself out of the mess she’s found herself in. The tale ends with a note of hope that leaves me rooting for Brenda to make something of her future.
This might not be an incredibly ambitious show but it does what it aims to do really well. I look forward to seeing what Karen Cogan does next.