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Five Recommended ... One-Person Fringe Shows

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In the common knowledge that an one-person performance is the only real way to make money as a theatre show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Whatsonstage.com helps you sort out some of the ones that deserve the success from the hoards of those trying. With three women and two men in our list, it seems that this year the girls are on top.

1. Bunny

Nabokov’s one-woman show is about an 18 year old girl in a town that’s nowadays better known for its airport than its football team – the incredibly diverse, albeit divided, Luton. Artistic director Joe Murphy directs Skins writer Jack Thorne’s hour-long monologue impeccably performed by recent drama school graduate Rosie Wyatt. Through a complex layering of shocking material within a conversational tone and Wyatt’s blasé delivery, Thorne provides a violent undercurrent to his teenage heist. Bunny subtlety and intricately plants the notion that there’s something altogether more sinister brimming throughout the newly adopted home of Easyjet. Underbelly Cowgate, 5-29 August at 14.10

2. Odyssey

Theatre Ad Infinitum take on the huge challenge of condensing Homer’s epic into an one-hour, one-man show. Lecoq-trained George Mann manages to squeeze ten Odyssean adventures into his own heroic theatrical journey, portraying most of the key characters. And Odyssey enthusiasts will not feel in any way hard-done by as Mann sticks close to the epic dramatic tradition, endowing each part he plays with a specific physical gesture, giving his own version of the epic epithet. His invocation of classical Greek gods through the mere use of his fast-moving and very precise hands alongside comic-book vocal noises is at times mesmerising. You are swept away by this whirlwind of physicality just like our hero Odysseus on his storm-ridden journey. Pleasance Dome, 4-30 August at 14.50

3. Stripped

Hannah Chalmers who writes and performs this show inspired by her days as a pole-dancer has such affability that you feel constantly involved in plight of her central character, Baby. As Baby tries to find her feet or in this case, loses her heels, in the seedy world of stripping, we are introduced to a host of characters, from punters, to club owners and fellow dances. Where Chalmers especially succeeds is in creating a deep empathy for Baby and so as we watch things go slowly (and at times exceedingly comically) wrong we catch a glimpse of the actual darker side of Baby’s new workplace. Gilded Balloon Teviot, 24-30 August at 16.15

4. Naked Splendour

What would the fringe be without a bit of nudity? Philip Herbert’s 30 years of experience as a life model means he’s more than comfortable posing every day for his fringe audience as they’re given drawing boards and invited to draw him as he performs. But this is by no means pure exhibitionism and if anything Herbert’s quiet pose adds to the contemplative environment of this intimate evening. Unlike the other one-person shows on this list, Herbert plays himself, and through this exposing direct address, the audience are given an opportunity to look not only at his body but also into his past. C central, 5-30 August at 15.10

5. Marion Allen’s Number One Hobby

Genevieve Swallow plays the title role in this perfectly timed 35 minute monologue – it may be short but writer Bea Roberts certainly packs it in. Marion’s top hobby is her penchant for entering competitions – a pastime we soon realise can also have its downsides when your box room is half-filled with a year’s supply of chocolate. But for a woman whose hobby relies on her optimism, her spirit is unflinching even in the face of adversity and so in the incredibly moving encounter in the final scene we are left reeling at the incredible, and incredibly performed, Marion Allen. Pleasance Courtyard, 6-21 August at 11.55

- Tom Williams


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