Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Get Your Life Back is a reality TV show where the contestants, like The House, have to get to know each other and vote, like Big Brother as to who leaves next. We also get a Love Island moment when the supposed infidelity of one partner is exposed to the other as they have secret exchanges revealed to them. In the game are a 21 year old whose best friend is a stuffed cat, a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Cinnamon, with him in finance and her in the kitchen, a content creator who is femme fatale to Mr. Cinnamon and first off, the show, a 40 somethings slob who works from home and eats many crisps. Brought together by Clive Valentine, who is all 70’s slimy game show and with a similar degree of subtlety and the power behind his throne, Assistant 6, this combines the game show mentality of the past, the formats of many of the present and little by way of a future for any of them as they attempt to get their lives back.
As this progresses it improves a great deal. At the beginning it has the feeling of a student show that seemed like a great idea but the understanding of it is just a little out of reach. The characters are therefore painted in bold with over the top caricatures rather than nuanced characterisations. This is especially true of the Game Show segments which mean that we have bookends that try to act like the cement but just appear too young to be believable.
The interplay between the characters, once they start to really talk to each other, is what improves this considerably. There is plenty of evidence of understanding here and we get moment of real authenticity including when the 21 year old admits to being the daughter of one of the executives at the TV station and therefore a potential winner. Mr. Cinnamon is far too obnoxious, but Mrs. Cinnamon manages to discover her groove and makes it all work, mainly once he has gone. It makes her revenge on Jolene ever sweeter and is dripping with venom in each exchange. With Brucette Wavy there is more depth, both in script and in interplay between them as each have a feminine story to give – the downtrodden young woman kept in her place by parents and the downtrodden but now liberated wife who is branching out from an overbearing husband.
It is directed with an eye on being a film which works, and the cuts and intermissions are well handled. Given the obvious problems about having to film in different locations and with different technical support, this is pretty well done.
Technically overall, I was hooked from about halfway through till the end with how the characters were coming alive and with the technical abilities. A few cutting room issues aside, the whole effect as to make this well worth the opportunity to watch and see what might be the outcome of a silly riff on game shows of the 70’s, the elements that have become culturally significant of the 2020’s and some of the responses from having to deal with a global pandemic.