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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

How to Survive and Thrive in an Impossible World – With a Piano!

Artisan Creative

Genre: Interactive, Music

Venue: Greenside at Infirmary Street


Low Down

Part storytelling, part singing, this quirky, amusing show encourages us to get wild and get healed to get on with life which, let’s face it, can be full on annoying at times.


It was an almost perfect Fringe audience: average in terms of number; nice demographic/socio economic spread; and a few who looked like the “worried well” that would be attracted by the catchy show title.

And there’s an impressive quartet of banners dominating the tight stage in Greenside at Infirmary Street’s Ivy venue, including the route map to thriving in our increasingly unpredictable, oft deranged world.   What followed was an amusing, quirky show encouraging us to get wild and get healed to help us get on with life which, let’s face it, is full on annoying at times.

Whilst being treated for cancer, Steve Bonham noticed how exhausted and stressed many NHS staff were, so started searching for an innovative way through the helplessness that many people feel has them trapped in a vice like grip.  He came up with five simple “rules of the road” around which the show How to Survive and Thrive in an Impossible World was developed.  The With A Piano bit saw him team up with his long-time collaborator Chris Lydon to set some of it to music, the inspiring and healing powers of which have long been recognised.

Chris Lydon is an excellent raconteur, very much at ease with his audience, engaging and informing and keeping the show flowing seamlessly, even choregraphing a sitting dance for everyone to join in with.  Who needs that Silent Disco thingy you see getting soaked wandering around Edinburgh!  Come to this show and you can disco without leaving your seat.  Steve Bonham is a psychologist, engaging, slightly nerdy but funny and a very original thinker, as evidenced by this show.

There’s a lot to like in this gentle, amusing, thoughtfully put together piece, part song, part spoken word but mostly just sound practical advice neatly camouflaged with large dollops of silliness and throwaway one-liners.  And that’s probably why it worked.  There was no annoying Powerpoint, no pompous “expert” telling us how to shape up, no impenetrable jargon to float over our bewildered heads.  Just a lot of self-deprecation from the two people on stage and some  simple things to think about that really do have the power to improve one’s outlook on life.

Entertaining and refreshingly different, this very good show is the perfect antidote for those days when you feel the world really has become impossible, bonkers and stark-ravingly deranged.  We all have them, it’s just that some people have them more often than others.  Their advice to take a step back and to laugh at a world that is rapidly losing the plot is spot on.  And, as Bonham intoned, “always remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with………a visit to the toilet!”