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Edinburgh Fringe 2019

A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego

Jordan & Skinner in association with the Pleasance

Genre: Feminist Theatre, Solo Show, Theatre

Venue: Pleasance Dome


Low Down

Feminist theatre company Jordan & Skinner’s treatise on the fragility of the male ego.  With lots of examples.


Andrea (the alter-ego of the hyper-active Melanie Jordan) is pacing nervously about the stage as the latest group of random punters roll up for her lecture on the fragility of the male ego.  Casting my eyes around the room, I note the absence of Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and others of similar ilk who’s egos are well-known for their (apparent) robustness so we can at least expect a quiet, thoughtful afternoon amongst the more open-minded people known to populate the Edinburgh Fringe.

You see, intones Angela, half the world is suffering under the weight of an extremely heavy burden, so we need to be very careful that we don’t do anything that would cause everything to tumble and smash.  Don’t we?

So begins fifty minutes of what turned out to be half lecture, half character sketch comedy, with the latter taking up and illustrating the points raised by the former.  And it’s some collection of characters as Jordan dances from Freud to Poseidon to Caesar to Freud to Mourinho to a generic “cheeky chappy” Londoner and back to Freud again.

Character formation and delivery is definitely one of Jordan’s trump cards and she uses humour to parody and satirise each of her chosen subjects.  Freud, as a recurring character, is particularly strong, even if some of his theories on ego get a little lost in her animated delivery.  Her take on Julius Caesar was also delivered with aplomb – the arrogance and detachment of political leaders insulated by sycophants that inevitably leads to hubris causing downfall being clear and concise.  Any visual or verbal allegory to current world leader(s) was left, of course, entirely to the imagination of her audience.

Whilst a couple of her characterisations possibly suffered from being a tad over-frenetic, she did change the pace and the mood very successfully to one of poignancy and pathos that exhibited the fragility inherent in many people, and not just the male of the species.  What is already a good and well-presented piece from feminist theatre group Jordan & Skinner might improve still further with a stronger central theme  -the “fragile ego” hypothesis got a little lost towards the end.

But the dashing dance denouement made sure we exited with a smile on our face as well as thinking about the issues that had been laid before us.  Job done, as far as Jordan is concerned.