Women on the Edge
Reviewed – 14th August 2019
“With more polish and some changes to the overall production, Women on the Edge could have its potential pushed to new heights”
‘April,’ T. S. Eliot once claimed, ‘is the cruellest month.’ He’s right, April sucks. But, for London theatre lovers, the cruellest month is August. Not only is it too hot/too cold/too sunny/too rainy (delete as applicable), but everyone’s gone to Edinburgh and they won’t stop tweeting about it. Should I shirk all responsibility and hop on the train now?
No. Just go to the Camden Fringe.
Women on the Edge, my first outing to this year’s Fringe, is a strong showcase for the talent of its writer and performer. In a fast-paced fifty minutes, Juliana Lisk tells three stories of women attempting to claw their way back from breaking point. “Broken Biscuits” explores the reality of growing up poor, spending Christmas without presents or a tree, and enjoying broken biscuits as a treat. Now, having experienced the charity of others, the protagonist wants to make a difference. “0800 Drink” shifts the tone entirely as Lisk portrays a teleshopping presenter on the 2 am shift, gradually disintegrating as she attempts to promote a retreat for responsible binge drinking. Finally, in “Toy Storey”, Lisk evokes the horror of Christmas in the toy department as the assistant assistant manager attempts to control the rogue activities of her boss – not to mention the baying crowd.
Lisk is an engaging performer, provoking sympathy for her characters and laughter at their flaws. Her writing is also strong: “Broken Biscuits” has an earnest emotional core, whilst “0800 Drink” is a great piece of irreverent fun. However, there are steps that could be taken to bring out their strengths more. “Broken Biscuits” is without doubt the strongest of the three pieces, and the most tonally unique. Having Lisk perform this first means that the show hits its high too early on, which is something that the other two cannot compensate for. Unfortunately the closing piece is the weakest of the three, meaning our final glimpse of Lisk is not reflective of her best work. Considering that she does all the resetting herself, having preset areas for each monologue is a good idea: but it would be nice to see them not confined to these set places. It might have been particularly useful for her to have more free rein over the stage, especially during “Toy Storey”, so that the high stakes could be more obvious.
The Camden Fringe is an opportunity for theatre makers to showcase their skills, and Lisk definitely does here. With more polish and some changes to the overall production, Women on the Edge could have its potential pushed to new heights.
Reviewed by Harriet Corke
Women on the Edge
Etcetera Theatre until 15th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: