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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Child of Sunday

Elisa Riddington

Genre: Cabaret, Solo Performance, Solo Show

Venue: Tbe Counting House


Low Down

“Child of Sunday examines the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the ‘ordinary people’ in our communities. The single mother trying to balance it all; the desperate souls looking for the promise of redemption; the fanatics; the phonies and the fraudulent. Told through stories of lived experience and a heterogeneous mix of songs, Child of Sunday examines what brings people together, lending a voice to the broken and the quietly brave. This is a show about the people who shape our communities in the constant search for connection and hope.”


At the start of this solo show from cabaret award-nominated Elisa Riddington you might think you are being given an advert for community Christianity beginning in Australia’s outback but by the end, without offering any spoilers, you realise that you have witnessed something very important and uncomfortable for all the right reasons. I say that because important issues are covered here with a rawness and authenticity in the capable hands of a brilliant singer and storyteller.

Child of Sunday is presented as an autobiography and the central character is surrounded by family, community and ultimately wolves in sheep’s clothing. This is as much a show about service and community as it is about faith, hope, the wish to believe and what happens when we are disappointed.

Shows like this are necessary at the fringe and this one is certainly a hidden gem in the free fringe. From a windscreen wiper worshipper to that proverbial collection box this is a revealing, informative, discomforting and insightful exploration of what it is to grow up in a Christian family. It is intelligently written, shattering places and the impact is strong. It is deeply in narrative, song and the interplay between them. Elisa Riddington sings into the story, adding depth to both the story and its emotional impact. In the tiny Attic space at the Counting House, we are successfully immersed in a world of literal and metaphorical shadow and light. At one point we are treated to a demonstration of spiritual semaphore and did you know that gold stood for the glory of God? The tokens of community religious practice, the routines, rituals and characters that comprise any community are all presented to us with a refreshing directness at the heart of the tightly structured narrated script. Just a little theatre adorns what sits somewhere between spoken word and solo drama.

The songs are aptly chosen to fit the narrative and reach a shattering ending and what you might have thought was an exploration of Christianity at the start becomes a powerful consideration of hope. Jesus comes off better than the church, and in this piece is not to blame for the behaviour of all too human people.

In terms of stagecraft, some more direct eye connection with the audience would strengthen and focus the piece. Staging is simple, unfussy and just a few props needed and none of those are wasted and the enhancing the story which is told in a very direct style and clearly is reciting something that has been written and I would like to see this lift further off the page as the piece develops and tours.There is scope to develop the theatrical elements further and to decide more firmly if the fourth wall is down or up.  Certainly it deserves to tour. This is indeed a hidden gem of a show on the Fringe.  Beautifully crafted, eloquently told and sung.