Atsuko Okatsuka @ Pleasance Courtyard
An hour of eccentric storytelling from US comedian and Edinburgh Fringe debutante Atsuko Okatsuka
Atsuko Okatsuka is a hotly-tipped arrival on the Edinburgh Fringe scene this year, and rightly so. Her Fringe debut packs a punch, with strong storytelling which bring an audience down to earth and back up again, inviting us to laugh at her expense. Many of her jokes are followed by a frenzied stare into the eyes of an unsuspecting audience member, all adding to the fun. Dressed top-to-toe in an outfit of colourful patchworks, passionfruit earrings and a signature bowl-cut, Okatsuka’s zany appearance (or, as she puts it, looking like the owner of an art gallery) lends itself well to a childlike view of the world characteristic of her show.
Despite a slow start with observational material about scary teenagers that, whilst funny, doesn’t break much ground, Okatsuka finds her feet in the second act. As she eases into comfortable material about her family, the show comes into its own. A structure begins to reveal itself as Okatsuka shares her and her husband’s very different responses to dealing with the titular intruder that shows up outside their house one day.
In fact, her husband, mother and grandmother take on starring roles in the show, as Okatsuka reveals a unique connection shared between she and her husband’s families through schizophrenia – which leads to the “craziest sex” she’s ever had, and some of her best material. Weaker asides that rely on more generic observations don’t always land, especially when they distract from some of her stronger storytelling elements. But through the strength of her charisma, there’s never a point where you don’t feel on-side.
The Intruder is a strong Edinburgh Fringe debut filled with meaning and fun, and Okatsuka’s a character you’re unlikely to forget come the end of August.
Atsuko Okatsuka: The Intruder, Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker 3), until 29 Aug (not 16), 6pm, £11-13