Edinburgh Fringe 2018
A satirical one woman show written and performed by Miranda Prag, that purportedly sets out to expose inauthenticity in identity, in our ideas about ourselves.
As the audience enters the miniscule venue and are finding their seats the performer is lying on the stage in the foetal position. Oh no, one thinks, what college level guts-out heart-opening, self-development, teenage new age clap-trap nonsense have I let myself in for. If you’re an Edinburgh veteran fan of solo self-exploratory theatre, you’ll well understand the disappointment of this moment, and that itching feeling that you have to leave now, but can’t summon up the courage to disappoint the performer, or draw attention to oneself from other audience members. However, it becomes apparent, after a prolonged and tortured dance sequence in the laying position, and none too quickly – which is evidence of the writer’s inherent gift for timing – that this is not the show that you are going to see. It is another show you are going to see, which she made up that day when she decided that the old one was too self-indulgent. What follows is indeed “spewed all over the stage” as the blurb in the flyer proudly announces, and seemingly follows no structural conditions but is in free flow, juxtaposed with elements of the old show, with readings from a notebook which she keeps neatly stowed away on the solitary prop of a chair the she uses.
What stops the show from being just a series of vignettes is the performer’s great skill with a dead-pan demeanour, her feel for the surreal and comedic-ridiculous and her pursuit of self-parody as a means of entertainment. This self-parody reaches a glorious climax in the final ‘scene’, which is utterly hilarious and sometimes uncomfortable.
I don’t know if the show does what it says it sets out to do in the promotional material – whether the show indeed does expose and throw light on ‘identity, authenticity and the murky area between the two’, or if it does it does so in a way that is highly unexpected. This is indeed the main structural device of the piece – to play with and thwart audience expectation.
Miranda Prag is a gifted writer and a natural clown and has produced a charming, funny and darkly comic show which I highly recommend. A very memorable piece which will stick in the mind long after other shows will have been confined to brain-dust.