Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Me, My Cult and I, Colin Ebsworth, Adelaide Fringe 2024, ★★★☆☆

A family history, an introduction to the teachings of Reverend Moon, a personal reflective piece and a stand-up routine Colin Ebsworth’s show Me, My Cult and I is an insightful look at why people turn to cults told through the lens of his parents experience.

The subject of cults has become something of a phenomenon in recent times with Netflix dedicating many productions to the gruesome, strange and sensationalised stories of cults and the crazy practices that they entail. To Ebsworth’s credit is the complete lack of sensationalism in his storytelling; first and foremost, this is a man telling you about his parents and his upbringing. His discussion of the cult is integral but the real story is of two human beings whose early experience of life and respective yearnings for adventure and family fatefully collided with a moment in time where a South Asian man believed himself the second coming of Christ whose mission was to create the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth – and evade tax.

What Ebsworth’s show does a good job of underlining is the entirely natural aspect of a cult. The question he comes up against time after time, is how and why his parents became involved with the cult. He understands the question but it is the wrong one. His parents were willingly married at random in New York at the Unification Church mass wedding. The question is if they hadn’t found the cult of Reverend Moon, then what other weird and wild rationale for their existence would they have landed on? People need something to believe in, and the function of a cult is to cultivate a system of beliefs so creative and extreme that subscribing to them is like entering an exclusive family unit.

Ebsworth shows raises interesting questions; is the cost of entering a cult your sanity or was your sanity slipping and the cult provided grip? What happens when the cult crumbles? Do you question the foundations of the life you have built? Are you capable of questioning them?

However, due to the sheer volume of material that Ebsworth attempts to cover in an hour these questions become lost in a quagmire of information. To create a show entirely based around your family is fascinating but it makes maintaining the necessary distance to deliver a clear narrative nearly impossible. An energetic, funny and emotional performer, Ebsworth’s stage presence is captivating but at times the speed of his delivery and his leapfrogging between stories left me feeling talked at and not talked to. The audience wasn’t offered long enough to sit in the moments that mattered, and thus the depth of what he was saying became lost.

Me, My Cult and I has the potential for a podcast series stamped all over it. The intimate, conversational tone of the show would be preserved, but the breakdown of the story into episodes centering on key events would give more breathing room to the themes of family, mental illness and  the experience of growing up ostracised and inculcated.  That being said, as a one hour show it is highly worth a watch. Witty, educational, and empathetic Me, My Cult and I highlights with love the utter madness of mankind.

Recommended Drink: Red Bull- just like an energy drink walks leaves you wondering if you’re animated or over caffeinated, this show will leave you wondering whether you heard too much or not enough.

Catch Me, My Cult and I until 16th March. Tickets can be purchased through the Adelaide Fringe Box Office.

Eilidh McKenzie

Eilidh is a writer, reader and avid watcher of film, television and theatre. She loves writing that blends comedy with darkness, and makes public the quirks of life and character that we've been taught to hide. She also aspires to be fluent in Spanish, but so far this has proved far harder than expected.

Festivals: Adelaide Fringe (2024) , Prague Fringe (2024), EdFringe (2024)
Pronouns: She/Her