Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Anxiety
These comics will have you at the edge of your seat with their gigs on nail-biting, pill-popping anxiety
Andrea Hubert has a natural aptitude for making audiences uncomfortable, much to their delight. Week [★★★★] reveals her personal struggle with 25 years of undiagnosed depression and a life that wasn't all (Wait)roses.
A syrupy sarcasm adheres itself to much of the script, replete with eloquent one-liners (with the word 'cunt' thrown in just enough times to balance out the posh Harrow accent). If fewer disclaimers preceded her darker material, the set would be perfect, but she seems obliged to issue warnings before particularly ruthless barbs, in a benevolent, schoolmarm sort of way that rather detracts from the shock value. But, evidently, the universality of mental health issues is the point, and one she brings artfully to the boil before leaving it to simmer in her wake.
Susie Youssef has audiences at "Eyylooooo!’", as her Fringe debut Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef [★★★★] begins with an introduction by Anya, her facetious, East European alter-ego. A second generation Aussie, growing up in a family of six girls, Youssef goes from a bubbly beginning and stories of large Lebanese weddings and Gourmet Pizza Kitchen coupons, to her ’cheeky’ panic attacks, which elicit a few laughs at first. Then there's the realisation that her levity might be symptomatic.
Youssef is a stand-up seamstress who comes equipped with the sort of comedic haberdashery that somehow makes it possible to pack in ribald yarns and character sketches with subtextual substance that would do a Booker nominee proud. A riveting, versatile performance that shows off all the best sides of her personality as an actor, sketch artist and comedian. A standout debut.
Peace of mind isn’t quite what you’ll find if you wander into Liz Miele’s show, but point this out and she’ll probably give you a piece of hers. She rants, opines and tells it like it is in Mind Over Melee [★★★] her Fringe set that talks acne, dating and dealing with anxiety in the rough-and-tough Big Apple. While Miele’s casual, conversational tone works, we lust after some edge. Unfortunately, despite raising abortion, the show overall avoids risks. What it lacks in enterprise, however, it compensates for in consistency, and when it comes to good, old-fashioned observational comedy, Miele is an ace.
Felicity Ward, photo: Andy Hollingworth
The stress at the festival doesn’t end there; get in line for the meticulously scripted 50% More Likely To Die [★★★★], delivered in an edgy, convincing extempore by the quirky Felicity Ward.
A bold comic, she doesn’t shy away from referencing the yoni and lead us on a hilariously rollercoaster account of a quotidian incident involving a lost bag; a narration side-tracked by killer impressions of reality TV, a whole lot of unnecessary (but thoroughly entertaining) meandering and the frequent, unwelcome usage of an ear-splitting air horn sound effect from an app on her cellphone. But despite the time she takes out for chicken karaoke (buy a ticket for further explanation on this particular faculty), the whole thing does come together with (and for) Ward.
Andrea Hubert: Week, Gilded Balloon at the Counting House (Sitting Room), 3-29 Aug (not 15 & 16), 3.45pm, £5 / PWYW
Susie Youssef: Check Youssef Before You Wreck Youssef, Assembly George Square Studios (Four), 3-28 Aug (not 17), 5.15pm, £7-12
Liz Miele: Mind Over Melee, Underbelly, Cowgate (Delhi Belly), 4-28 Aug (not 15), 6.40pm, £6-10.50
Felicity Ward: 50% More Likely to Die, Pleasance Courtyard (Above), 3-29 Aug (not 15), 9pm, £7-13.50