Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: A Bit Too Much Hair, Butch Mermaid, EdFringe 2023 ★★★★★

Inclusivity and Community are at the beating heart of interactive, off-the-wall cabaret A Bit Too Much Hair. With rip-roaring musical delight a band of merry travellers journey to the further corners of gender expression in search of that elusive concept – euphoria. With verve and whimsy, we are transported through a near-cosmic and infinite space of expression that feels as supportive as it does intrepid and eager. A band of merry wanderers waltz with us through the many forms that gender expression takes, and tickle at the often indescribable feeling of euphoria by teasing it out of modes of expression, identity, and things that elicit joy. However you express your gender, and whatever form it takes, Butch Mermaid make you feel at home instantly in this uproarious gender reveal party for the ages.

A transcendent, somewhat cosmic thread of repeating narrative music pulls us along the hour cabaret hour, depicting the story of a traveller finding their place in a discordant world, over land and sea, and with camaraderie by their side. This story interjects a set of musical numbers and monologues, returning back intermittently as a moment of reflection. This is a lovely translucent bit of storytelling that has a sort of ethereal glaze to it, as each member of the foursome on stage takes turns to embody this inter-cosmic musical journey. This device is interpretive, but roughly shades in the journeys we all go on in finding a connection to our gender identity, and thusly finding the euphoria in it. This piece is not strictly focused on a trans or non-binary gendered identity, which some may instantly presume it to be, instead it affirms those identities alongside cis-gender identities, making it beautifully accessible to all.

The blend of monologues and songs drift between melancholic musings about what allows people to open up to their gender identity, express themselves, and in some cases become visible in their identities through confidence and empowerment. Among these empowering highlights include a song in which a man finds joy in wearing a dress to his office Christmas Party, and dispels his colleagues’ claims that he’s wearing a tunic. Often these wonderfully brash and cathartic monologues tap into the audience’s personal revelations about gender euphoria, including a fully improvised song in which a pair of performers try to create an acronym for ‘Gender Euphoria’ on the audience’s suggestions of what makes them feel themselves. Expression is a blissful release and an important political identity, and the show never discards either. We’re reminded that if we can express ourselves it is not only for our own sake, but also to be visible for generations to come.

In depictions of gender in the arts, we are often asked to think about it as a concept in the abstract. Here, Butch Mermaid have done a remarkable job of celebrating diversity whilst still making sure that gender euphoria is a tangible concept. Starting at the base up – the outside, the ephemeral, meaning the objects, clothes, and hairstyles that fulfil the visions of ourselves that affirm how we feel our gender should be expressed. The piece is not materialistic, however, and expresses how transcendent gender euphoria can come – from others recognising (or in some cases, even just being unsure) about how you’re expressing your gender. Identity is celebrated as a spectrum, and wherever you are on it, Butch Mermaid have a way of helping you celebrate the joy it gives you.

For those that might come into this unsure about their identity, the pure glee of those around you shouting out suggestions and tinker around with the concept of gender will make you feel right at home. There is a real community developed in between the slightly slipshod piecing together of the audience interaction and on-stage realisation. Taking joy out of the realm of the abstract and bringing it into a humming harmony is the cast’s absolute pleasure, and you can tell from the minute you walk in. Glitzy costumes and rock-solid guitar riffs blur the lines of genre, and the overall cabaret craziness sucks you in for 45 minutes of merrymaking and delight.

Raucous, rhythmic, and strikingly joyous on all fronts – A Bit Too Much Hair offers up a bit too much fun (well, you can never have too much fun, but you get the joke) that celebrates every gender and affirms all that glee that comes with being yourself.

Recommended Drink: A Bit Too Much Hair is a popping pink Peach Bellini – fizzing with an overwhelming and rosy sense of fun.

Catch A Bit Too Much Hair every other day from today until August 26th at 17:00. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them