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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Yoga with Jillian

Project Y Theatre and Richard Jordan Productions

Genre: Dramedy, One Person Show, Theatre

Venue: The Pleasance


Low Down

A new screwball comedy about how Gwyneth Paltrow, guru culture, green juice and your best downward-facing dog can save us all! Brought to your yoga mat direct from its sell-out Off-Broadway season by the team behind laugh-out-loud Edinburgh smash-hit Trump Lear and one of the most exciting new US writers.


Rare is the play that offers a workout that is as physical as it is emotional. Yoga with Jillian offers entering audience members the opportunity to do just that, as volunteers can claim a mat onstage and actually take an exercise class with Jillian, an American instructor who is about to give her students stretches not soon to be forgotten by their muscles or their memories.

Billed as a screwball comedy in its press materials and on flyers, Yoga with Jillian is, as advertised, gloriously funny. But it is much, much more than that. Playwright Lia Romeo has crafted a show that speaks profoundly to this post-shutdown moment, this time when we are all evaluating where things stand now compared to how life was just a few short years ago. Are we better off now than before? And are we at fault if not?     

These existential contemplations are voiced by Jillian, played to perfection by Michole Biancosino, whose Zen facade over the course of her class slowly cracks to reveal genuine pathos and despair. Initially asking her students to let the outside world go for the duration of her class, Jillian hilariously does just the opposite, giving her students a running pitter-patter narrative of her life’s recent trials and tribulations between and during poses.

Jillian may be promoting inner peace, but she has none, and Romeo is interested in what it costs to force positivity when it is unwarranted. Director Andrew W. Smith keeps the show moving at an ideal clip, balancing the actual rhythms and timing of a yoga class while maintaining dramatic momentum within this very clever play structure.

Unlike Jillian, all the elements of this terrific production are in sync, including (and especially) the actor who is breathing very real life into her. I will not soon forget Biancosino’s warm and generous interpretation of this very troubled and utterly human wellness professional. Yoga with Jillian could have easily veered into silly parody, but never does Biancosino go for the easy laugh. Every moment is rooted in honesty, and the collective empathy that results for this troubled soul by play’s end is well-earned.