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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Charmaine Wombwell: Ma’s Monster

Charmaine Wombwell

Genre: Cabaret, Clown, Music, Variety Show

Venue: BlundaGardens: BlundaBus & Magical SpiegelYurt


Low Down

Combining clown, music and maybe some knitting, Ma explores her journey through motherhood and we see what happens when you not only wear your heart on your sleeve, but the other bits as well.


Entering the SpiegelYurt at the BlundaGardens, the colourful atmosphere is immediately magical. Charmaine Wombwell is in the small stage space watching as we come in. She is low key and quiet – until her show starts and then she bursts forth like a dynamo! Her character is mystical, quirky, charming and special, you may not have met anyone like her before, but meet her you must.

Wombwell talks to us introducing her show, she says she will sign everything as she speaks, sings and moves! In fact it is her sign language that drives some of her movement in a most unique way. She uses her physicality more than most signers I have seen and seems to have a short hand way of signing, rather like trailing off when we speak to people we know well because they understand what we mean.

Watching this character unfold is fascinating. Who is she? Is she a mischievous sprite or a knowing fairy from the bottom of our garden or is she…well all is clear when Wombwell proclaims firmly that she is a Goddess! We are not used to meeting such beings and this explains everything. Her environment is curious as Wombwell refers to varying lengths of brightly coloured wool hanging from above, and she talks about knitting and shows some of her handmade props that are creatively used within the context of her story. She tells us about a few special events in her life with quick gestures and witty observations, little dances and quirky movement – all done with verve and enthusiasm.

Her physical storytelling is compelling and creative as she incorporates eccentric movements into her performance with ease. Instead of taking a prosaic tone she successfully manages to mention the comments we have in our heads as she starts a thread of these events and gives us the low down, in her own way, which is very entertaining! Another quality about Wombwell is her zany yet positive and realistic take on life – she quickly becomes a friend who doesn’t need to sugar coat things as she flits from idea to idea. Wombwell is so spontaneous and sincere it’s refreshing to see a performer share all of this with us. The one hour show and storyline is all there and the latter part will surely tighten up as the run continues.

If you have the opportunity to see this show then take it! You can not help but smile and laugh throughout. Charmaine Wombwell is part clown, part Buffon and part zany comedy character who has loads of humility, charm and warmth.