Julia Rorke @ Underbelly Cowgate

Even amongst the expected level of Fringe absurdity, Julia Rorke is alarmingly odd

Review by Charlie Ralph | 19 Aug 2019
  • Julia Rorke @ Underbelly Cowgate

If one were to describe the Fringe in one indelible image, it may well be the sight of Julia Rorke high-kicking and thrusting her way towards a total mental breakdown inside a cave at 11pm on a Sunday. Clad in sunglasses and lycra, yelling baffling astrology lingo at her audience and inexplicably offering them muffins before confronting them with sexual advances, one can safely say that Rorke is both the spirit of the Fringe personified and like nothing you've ever seen before.

It is important to note that Rorke is undoubtedly a talented performer, pulling an initially reluctant audience along with her through the strength of her aggressive charisma alone. Rorke's show is entitled Jeneane's Kinky Room of Astrology and Ciggies, but little credence is given to the idea that she is playing a character. This creates a difficult situation in which if this is a character, it’s poorly-done as jokes give way for obtuse rants and psychosis with very few punchlines. 

On the other hand, if 'Jeneane' is a thinly-veiled portrayal of herself, the show is thrillingly confessional and truly funny in its oddness. While hundreds of shows a year proclaim to allow a comedian to ‘reveal their true self’, Rorke's show is perhaps unintentionally revolutionary in its frankly honest portrayal of a woman rejoicing in behaviour outside of societal norms.

It is undoubtedly recommended viewing and a memorable experience amongst a sea of stand-ups striving towards the creative heights of TV panel shows. As a comedy show, the laughs are thin on the ground, but as a baffling character study performed by a gripping on-stage presence, it is a sensation.

Julia Rorke: Jeneane's Kinky Room of Astrology and CiggiesUnderbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly), until 24 Aug, 11pm, £9-11