Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Decisions, Decisions

Two Fringe shows from two fine stand-ups examining life-changing choices of the personal and political.

Feature by Polly Glynn | 09 Aug 2016

Juliette Burton's Decision Time [★★★] is a sweet confessional hour on her life so far. The show centres on a life-changing decision with her partner, and Burton is brave enough to put that in the hands of a mid-afternoon Fringe audience. As ever, Burton is courageous, touching upon her struggles with mental health.

The last act discusses this unflinchingly, leaving the woman next to me in tears. The topic resonates with the room, and all the more so because it unexpectedly hits so hard. Burton packs a punch, but the gravity of the situation may have been better presented with a few more jokes worked in, and not left the room with a heavier heart than when they walked in.

Over at Pleasance Courtyard, Gráinne Maguire is discussing her options too in Great People Making Great Choices [★★★]. Having a tech meltdown in the first minute of the show doesn’t usually bode well, but getting the audience to sing the riff from 20th Century Boy certainly made it a memorable moment.

Childhood dreams of wanting to fight in a civil war before the age of 30 are brilliantly put across (girls in red berets do always look cute), as is her anger at the maintenance of the 8th Irish Amendment, resulting in Maguire live-tweeting her menstrual cycle to the current Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

The hour begins gently, as the first half ambles through relationship difficulties, although it picks up a little with interesting talk about the meaning of gender roles. It’s a shame, then, that Maguire's powerful discussion of Ireland’s ‘sacred’ right to life of an unborn child is left to near the end of the hour, as her voice is strongest when discussing political issues. Despite this, the writing remains intelligent and relevant with razor-sharp jokes scattered throughout, and makes for an enjoyable hour.

Juliette Burton: Decision Time, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wee Room), 3-28 Aug (not 15), 4:30pm, £6-9.50
Gráinne Maguire: Great People Making Great Choices, Pleasance Courtyard (Beside), 3-29 Aug (not 16), 7:15pm, £6-12.