“Welcome to my show, it’s all about your flow,” says a woman in a large fancy dress. A cabaret show about eras through eras – only at the Fringe, huh? But writer and performer Heather Milsted’s fair claim is that talking about menstruation should be a much more pervasive pursuit, given its personal relevance to (more than) half of the world’s population, than discussion of periods is. doesn’t have to be conducted in a dry place (ahem), didactically, that sharing experiences should mean there’s no need to be bluesy on reds – and why was menstrual blood so banned that ads demonstrated soaking up sanitary napkins with blue liquid well into the 2020s?
This assiduously researched adventure through the centuries counters menstrual myths, eradicates euphemisms (new personal favorite – “the cranberry woman is coming” as used in Germany) and uncovers some progressive practices from ancient Egypt. In her quest to illuminate the era, Milsted invokes historical heroines and delivers her message through a spectacle of medieval music, Elizabethan rap, Victorian vaudeville and buffer tap dancing. In a quarter of an hour you’ll be screaming “vagina” and throwing sanitary napkins at the Milsted game who had his own menstrual hell to pay.
Pleasance Court, until August 21
Let’s talk about Philippe ***
SUICIDE is the biggest killer of men between the ages of 20 and 40. Family members are often in shock, trying to figure out what might cause a young man with no known mental health issues to take his own life. And with that come burning questions: how could I not know? Isn’t there something I could have done? This happens in a special way for Helen Wood, whose brother Philip committed suicide in 1985 at the age of 27. His parents erected a wall of silence around the event and it was only 30 years after his mother’s death that his elderly father finally agreed to “talk about Philippe”.
She and Philip had been close as children, but separated as adults. Philip’s marriage was in trouble, but he had just returned from a trip to Asia and seemed full of ideas about the future. Ten days after his Welcome Home party, he was dead.
Let’s talk about Philip is with both hands on his search for answers. Wood plays herself, and Gregor Hunt plays every other role, from her father and her therapist to Philip himself. The show, written by Wood and Hunt and directed by Derek Bond, plays with form, with Wood frequently criticizing Hunt over his performances.
But her search is hampered by the passage of time, and her frustration, while understandable, risks drowning out a wider range of emotions. As is often the case in these circumstances, there are few answers to be found, which does not make it a satisfying conclusion, either for her or for the audience.
No secrets surround the death of actor Jonathan Salway’s son, Tom, songwriter and musician, in 2017, also at the age of 27. But her father is left with the same burning questions. To Mwhich he wrote and performed himself, jumps back and forth in time to illuminate key moments in Tom’s life, and pauses to reflect on the act of suicide itself: is it inherently selfish ( “like the selfish bastard who jumps in the dawn to train when you’re already late for work”) or even, in some cultures, honourable?
Salway, who helped create Fringe hits The Selfish Gene The Musical and A Space Oddity, explores his own grief, anger and confusion here. As an adult, Tom had kept his distance; now his father wonders about the son he feels he barely knew. Wandering the streets of the seaside town where the family once lived, he clings to possible explanations: Did “nerves” run in the family? Could this be the result of the steroids he took for asthma? The subtle addition of music from artists who died by suicide – including Tom and his band – allows for variation in tone and texture.
He realizes, like Wood, that even when there are answers, they don’t tell the whole story. The only person with a full explanation is the person who is no longer there.
Let’s talk about Philip, Pleasance Courtyard, until August 28. Tom, Assembly Rooms, until August 17
Mohan: A story of partition *****
In Mohan: A Partition Story, Niall Moorjani brilliantly dissects the impact of Partition, both personally and societal, delicately balancing acerbic political commentary with the lived experiences of their eponymous grandfather. The first is essential to provide a broader historical context; although three centuries of British rule in India requires a shortcut to fit the show’s brief runtime, the image painted by Moorjani still lives on. We learn how the British deliberately heightened existing religious tensions to govern more effectively, and the resulting bloodshed that destroyed entire communities. In addition to recounting the chaos and suffering caused by Partition, Moorjani also points to the sheer absurdity of the situation; in a darkly humorous scene, they imagine a job interview between the British government and the underqualified Cyril Radcliffe, who ended up drawing the border between India and Pakistan.
While this tale helps us understand the magnitude of the tragedies that unfolded as a result of the Empire’s arrogance, it’s the memories of Moorjani’s grandfather that form the heart and soul of the show. Through the eyes of 11-year-old Mohan, Moorjani turns the abstract into the personal; they continually remind us that their grandfather’s life is just one of millions that has been shaped by the score, and that most of those stories are no longer told. Whether describing how their family was forced to flee their ancestral homestead or recounting the terror of being a refugee in their own homeland, Moorjani’s storytelling genius encapsulates the carnage of life change. from state to individual.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, until August 16
The MP, Auntie Mandy and I ***
Dom, who lives with his mother in the village of Brinton, has three main goals: to save the station, which was once home to the world’s fastest steam engine, to get more likes on Instagram and to meet another gay man. When he was about to question local MP Peter Edwards about the station, he discovered, to his surprise, that the Honorable Member liked ‘musical theatre’.
While Edwards and her husband play the role of “healthy middle-class morons” for the media, in fact the husband is often away and Edwards likes to take MDMA (Aunty Mandy) and wear a dog mask during the local Leather & Fetish party. . Being pulled into his world feels adult and exciting at first, until Dom begins to feel manipulated.
Written and performed by Rob Ward (Gypsy Queen) and directed by Clive Judd, this engaging and thought-provoking play is one of many on the Fringe this year to deal with coercive relationships. As Ward tries to weave together too many threads – the mother taking pills, the bizarre panic attacks – it’s an engaging look at how desire makes us vulnerable and the importance of learning to stand up for our limits.
Pleasance Dome, until August 21
THEATRETickled: The Ken Dodd Story***The late Ken Dodd was such a driven man to entertain that, as the old joke goes, every time he opened the fridge door and the light came on, it was ten minutes. David Robinson’s affectionate one-man show is a behind-the-scenes look at Doddy, set a few years after his 1989 tax evasion trial. Robinson doesn’t look much like Dodd and aside from wearing his teeth to suggest an overbite, it doesn’t really try – it’s a tribute, not an act of homage. What he shares with Dodd is an easy rapport with audiences and the ability to really sell some pretty terrible jokes – don’t worry, there are some good ones too. Robinson’s insightful screenplay was clearly well-researched and born out of a lifelong love for its subject matter. Doddy bristles when a reporter refers to his “solo act” – correcting them by saying it’s a 40-year partnership with the public. It’s a solidly professional production by Michael Taylor and if the piece’s loose, relaxed structure means it drags on a bit now and then, just count yourself lucky – if it was, in fact, the real Ken Dodd. , the show would last four hours. RORY FORD Greenside. @ Nicolson Square, until August 20
The raw, contemporary experience of anorexia informs this piece by Barcelona-based company Modern Day Chronicles, which makes its Fringe debut this year. Written and starring Candela May, who has past experience with eating disorders, it’s episodic and not always easy to watch but is never less than authentic.
May takes us through a single day, demonstrating how every aspect of her condition is publicized, from conflicting media messages about body image to remastered clips of Hollywood movies, from video diaries she makes herself for Instagram to a imaginary cat interview. She constantly observes herself through the lenses of others, even as they observe her. At one point she says, “I want to disappear and be seen at the same time.”
Her insider’s perspective exposes some of the complexities of the condition: how deception can be turned into a game, how she likes to show the world the opposite of how she really feels. While greater coherence would make the piece more powerful, it is nevertheless a courageous look at a difficult subject.