Edinburgh Fringe Previews: Nan, Me & Barbara Pravi ★★★★ Body Show ★★★★★ Dugsi Dayz ★★★★★
We preview three unmissable shows in London ahead of their Edinburgh Fringe runs. Get the lowdown before the festival even starts!
Nan, Me & Barbara Pravi ★★★★ | Camden People’s Theatre
Hannah Maxwell wowed us in 2019 with her debut show I, AmDram (Read our review) – and her follow up looks set to be one of the hits of the 2023 Fringe.
A show about care, crisis and the Eurovision song contest might sound like an odd mash-up of themes, but this is Maxwell’s forte. She turns a wry, Gen Z eye to serious subjects, wrapped up in a relatable and entertaining narrative. You don’t need to know who Barbara Pravi is to enjoy this show – you don’t even need to be a Eurovision fan! But you do need to be ready and willing to go with a flow that combines microwave cookery, Countdown conundrums, song & dance, and some A-grade celebrity stalking!
A warm-hearted, insightful and inspirational exploration of the need to care – for others, and for ourselves – in these crisis-ridden times. With jokes.
Frankie Thompson and Liv Ello: Body Show ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre
Frankie Thompson and Liv Ello’s Body Show is a mouthy must-see masterpiece at the Fringe this year. The show is a frenetic, fast-paced dissection of the crazy world we live in, with a subversive frivolity capable of transforming into moments of pure emotion in the space of a minute.
Supposed universal truths are built and demolished around bodies, gender, and the masculinity/femininity binary through lip-syncs, sketches, duologues and monologues – but most impressively with live vocal acrobatics. This at-times apocalyptic show is a testament to the two performers’ insanely high skill levels and almost telepathic communication. They truly are the definition of iconoclasm, and make potentially complex issues and philosophical ideas easy to digest.
From Action Man to Barbie tropes of a 90s colour-saturated, hyper-real childhood, Thompson & Ello traverse warp-speed memories to expose the capitalist foundations of gender, pushing for a collective recognition of the problematic. Reassuring comic moments are aplenty, and the show is fun for everyone – but ultimately, this is clowning around that cuts much deeper. Go for the fun of Frankie and Liv, but prepare to get your head scrambled with this hour of deceptively precise ‘smash the patriarchy’ performance.
A technicolor cheese dream exposing gender as the construct it is – and unpacking what we need to change before the end of the world.
Dugsi Dayz ★★★★★ | New Diorama Theatre
Detention doesn’t have to be boring – so proves this rib-tickling yet thought-provoking British-Somali Muslim retelling of The Breakfast Club. The all female (presenting) cast bring heart, incredible performances and unstoppable energy to this fly-on-the-wall look at Islam, girl code and young people.
Kooky, spooky campfire stories are told with commitment by this hive of hijabi talent. The incredibly talented sisterhood of Susu Ahmed, Sabrina Ali, Faduma Issa, Hadsan Mohamud are certainly names to watch out for – this show could easily transfer to TV/Netflix success, in the vein of Channel 4’s female Muslim punk band sitcom We Are Lady Parts.
Writer and actor Sabrina Ali’s script dazzles, packed with cheeky one liners and giving the talented comic cast all an equal chance to sparkle.
The show’s unstoppable power lies in that it is written, co-directed and produced by Somalis, and is performed by a full cast of Somali women. This still, sadly, feels like a rare thing in British theatre – we need more of this and, when it’s this good, why shouldn’t we?!
Occasionally the To Do List team are forced to work together.
Rupert likes: free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.
Stuart likes: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.