Njambi McGrath @ Just the Tonic, Marlin's Wynd
Accidental Coconut is a heavy-hitting hour that needs polish, but is worth seeing
Njambi McGrath takes us on a heavy-hitting, whistle-stop tour of African history in Accidental Coconut. She walks us through facts that may be hard to hear, but are harder still to experience, so it’s certainly a subject worthy of the attention of Fringe audiences. To add to that, it is refreshing to hear an African woman talking about the history of Africa – history is known, after all, for being dominated by older “aristocratic white men”, as she dubs them.
The structure is sound, but McGrath loses her way at some point in the second act. It starts to feel as though the material has been stretched with impersonations of nameless historical figures to fill the hour. At times, her delivery also gets a little lost as the impersonations and characters overwhelm the narrative; they break up the flow and appear less carefully constructed than other material. There’s also some difficulty when McGrath tries to squeeze in material about an abusive father and the complexity of coming to terms with that – it is all glazed over rather quickly. The fact that she has written a book is given similar treatment: she drops the fact in, then swiftly moves on.
There are big laughs when she talks about her upbringing in East Africa. These are the kinds of stories that your average Fringe audience hasn’t heard before, so it’s new, and it’s refreshing. McGrath’s voice is a welcome one at Fringe, but it’s one that could do with a little more polish.
Njambi McGrath: Accidental Coconut, Just the Tonic @ Marlin's Wynd (Just the Wyndy Room), until 23 Aug, 4.05pm, Free/PWYW