Edinburgh Festival Fringe Theatre 2018 - Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl, Summerhall, Four stars / Extinguished Things, Summerhall, Four stars
A cup of tea is always welcome to get people on-side. This is probably why Australian performer Jess Love hands them out to the audience at the start of Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl, her one-woman whirlwind that takes in booze, bingo, hula hoops and hand-me-down rebellion. The set-up is of a glorified Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in an initially larky affair that sees Love cast herself as an oddball outsider who runs away to the circus, but finds herself in a heap of drunken trouble. Only when she discovers an equally wayward ancestor does she channel her energy into something more creative.
As Love teeters and at times totters from life’s increasingly unstable high-wire act, she stumbles in and about the audience en route to finding some discipline. As the mood darkens into some discomforting home-truths, Love finds that discipline through the transformative powers of the trapeze. The result is a funny and daringly candid tale of losing control, before subsequently managing to take back that control in the most high-flying of ways imaginable.
Tea and sympathy are on the go too in Extinguished Things, Molly Taylor’s lovely personal meditation on home, moving on and how to memorialise everything that’s gone without losing it entirely. The result, as Taylor recounts a return to her Liverpool home as a grown-up following the breakdown of a relationship is a gentle, moving and funny memorial of a mixed race couple down the decades as mythologised through Taylor’s musings when she finds herself alone in their house.
With Taylor a vivid and personable presence in a living room set complete with a box of old records and a working kettle, she juxtaposes her story about her grown-up neighbours with hints of even more personal losses. In this way, Extinguished Things is an intimate little elegy of everyday lives that found fleeting moments of happiness before things moved on.
The Herald, August 21st 2018