Brighton Fringe 2022
An existential battle between good and evil, the insatiable lust for fame; will it be chips for our heroine Charlotte? You think it’s all over; well it is now. A post-modern comedy epic by Freddie Hayes, the spud-u-will-like.
The potato’s inherent versatility is roundly matched by creator/performer Freddie Hayes’ eclectic range of skills in her wonderfully batty new show.
Albeit lumpen, dun-coloured and humble, we know that the potato is an important root crop for much of the world’s population. But did we also know that it was first introduced to Europe in 1592, the same year that Christopher Marlowe wrote his version of Dr Faustus? Two pivotal events in world and literary history, smashed up together, it’s got to be a show hasn’t it? With puppets, and karaoke, and penalty shoot outs, and animations, and singalongs.
In a refreshingly self-aware performance, Freddie encourages the audience to join Charlotte, spud protagonist, on her journey into the dark battle for her soul. She wants to be famous, to prove she’s more than just a skin with twelve eyes, to be a face on the telly. Tempted by Morris Piper, servant of the devil, Charlotte descends to the underworld.
There have been other potato shaped female comedians. Lucy Pearman, whose work is a similar mash-up of comedy, drama and props, was once a fetchingly coy, rude and hearing impaired tuber. But Freddie, as directed by those masters of intelligent, boundary-busting work Sh!t Theatre, rices (ricer – get it?) every possible potato pun in the course of this madcap hour and does more. We glimpse the life of a fringe artist, competing for attention, lacking confidence, low on budget.
The arc of the story may ebb a little here and there but the show never lacks invention, whether it’s a nightclub in a vanity case, spud puppet shagging, audience interaction or characterisation. Brilliant film work shot by Sh!t Theatre, cleverly edited by Freddie, show Charlotte on her voyage of discovery in glorious colour and give some breathing space. The final reveal is a magnificent coup-de-theatre allowing Freddie to show her performance chops, free from the confines of a foam rubber orb. We’re dancing and singing, crisply rewarded. The devil really does have the best tunes.