Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: All is Pink in West Berkshire County, Aireborne Theatre, EdFringe 2023 ★★★★★

A deliciously quirky and offbeat dark comedy is the offering from Aireborne Theatre in All is Pink in West Berkshire County. A nation-wide meat ban sees bouffon-esque upper class couple Michael and Denise Abbey turning to unconventional sources to get their Umami fix. The arrival of their Vegan activist daughter Eve and her new working class boyfriend Rory sees a Christmas dinner that no-one will forget… Knives out, forks in. Harry Daisley delivers a delectable dystopian fable about class and conscience with an unfettered sense of dramatic purpose, and a truly twisted wit.

Christmas party games spur the heart of this piece, which even despite the August sun glimmers in that devilishly weird experience of unlikely couples brought together in the festive period. All of the performers faces are covered in a dusting of white powder – ominous salt, powder, fraying skin, it’s hard to tell, but it’s a wonderful atmospheric device. The Abbey’s appear all in ruffled white and red costumes that evoke an eerie sense of uncalm – a la Eyes Wide Shut or Midsommar. Their butcher’s aprons contrast against Rory’s casual slacks to resounding effect, he is not only an outsider but presented as a disruption to the upper class repugnancy of the Abbey household. Aesthetically, this piece is gorgeously designed, with paper crowns and crackers ringing in the bells.

Michael and Denise do their absolute worst at welcoming Rory into their household with bizarre games and traditions that would alienate even the most placid of house guests. As dinner is served, it becomes clear that expensive bottles of booze and canapes are not the only thing on the table tonight – and their vehemently vegan daughter is soon out for blood. Rory, meanwhile, is just desperate to please, and falls into a rabbit hole he won’t soon escape from. His requests for a Bloody Mary fall on deaf ears, and lead the monstrous Michael to question his sexuality and brandish him in a game of Heads Up that spirals out of control. Through the veneer of extravagant and over the top satire and cacophony, we are treated to biting satire and outlandish character comedy. It feels as though every element of the piece is seasoned just right.

The character of Michael is a dastardly, scene-stealing villain played effortlessly by Matthew Dangerfield in a performance that dabbles in frivolous fancy and a sense of pervading danger throughout. Denise wallows and flails in the perceived struggles of upper class life, and Siobhan Ward’s fretfully unwinding performance fans her daughter’s flames with every breath. His repugnant homophobia and classism fantastically lampoons untoward attitudes against a textured backdrop of social issues. Maisie Stalham’s unassuming Eve Abbey initially dwindles against the stature of her parents’ unhinged madness, yet later comes to find herself in a more sinister light, revealing the effects of her fractious upbringing on her suggestibility.

Ben Greenwood’s Rory is a true revelation, unpicking the class struggle on display and later displaying a gruesome, sociopathic urgency. The show sees an interplay of physicality, with disquiet, threatening clown-like movement sharply contrasting against moments of awkward quiet at the dinner table. The blocking of the piece is carefully thought through to deliver hilarity and menace in a perfect equilibrium. This is a deeply fleshed out show, with no moment spared.

Harry Daisley’s script is pointed, and captures a real sense of fraught class divide against a climate crisis backdrop that simmers behind with a light dystopian feel. Though set in the future, the piece rings pertinent to now with themes of homelessness, the cost of living, class, and the North-South Divide proving resonant in both the sharp humour and frightening horror. The horror of the piece is not corporeal, but hums in tone and atmosphere that leads you to the inevitable conclusion alluded to in all of the show’s marketing. The performances and atmosphere marry in a unity of style and tone, with orchestral choral music dripping anxiety into the bones of it all throughout. This is psychological horror unpacked with deft humour, wordplay, and craft.

Rich, ravishing, and roll-on-the-ground funny – this is a deliciously satiating satire with all the quirky charm, and all of the trimmings, that you could possibly want.

Reccomended Drink: Why a Bloody Mary, of course, if you can make one.

Catch All is Pink in West Berkshire County at TheSpace @ Symposium Hall – Annexe until August 26th at 17:05. 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