Imagine your teenage diary being read aloud on stage. Every little insecurity is brought to life, verbalised and validated. That’s A Young Girl’s Guide to Madness in a nutshell.
The play, written and performed by Charlotte Ellis, consists of episodic verbatim segments spliced with spoken word voiceovers. With a fine tooth comb, Ellis works through and dissects everything wrong with the world. Body image, toxic positivity, quietly abusive relationships, our inability to walk home without risking literal death. All those glorious things that make growing up with a vagina especially difficult. It’s frank, funny at times and heartbreakingly accurate.
It’s an important piece of work, that’s for sure. We live in a world where we STILL can’t walk home without our keys between our fingers. Whether you’re seventeen or seventy, there’s something for everyone to relate to. Ellis’s writing is divisive and succinctly points out that things haven’t changed much since we were seventeen. What’s worse.. realising what your younger self went through or recognising you never really stopped going through it? The feeling of solidarity throughout the audience was massive.
This isn’t just a play about teenage insecurities. It’s a show about class and privilege. Ellis laments poetically to a tenner, questioning why the world sees a banknote as having more worth than a young girl. It’s clever and devastating. This show is real credit to the ethos of Bloomin Bud’s Theatre Company. In their own words, their mission is to ‘increase access to opportunity and to the arts for working-class communities. Now, this is what the Fringe is about!
Ellis gave an excellent performance. It’s not an easy feat to hold a whole show on your fluffy crop-topped shoulders… She tackled the task with ease, shaking her nerves off early. What’s not to love? She was relatable, charismatic and seething throughout. A very talented writer and performer, she deserves all the success with this show.
A Young Girl’s Guide to Madness reinstates that maybe it’s not us; it’s the system we live in. I’d recommend this show ten times over and then ten times again. Not just one for the ‘girls’, this is a play about inequality against everyone. If Ellis’s Jess is suffering from madness, maybe we’re all the same kind of crazy?
Recommended Drink: Some radioactive-looking alcopop on your first club night out. Cheers, eighteen-year-old self!
Catch A Young Girl’s Guide to Madness at theSpace on North Bridge – Fife Theatre at 11:35 until August 27th. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.