First Brighton Fringe event for me ever. A nice warm-up with some harmless local comedy talent, I figured. But no, that was really never meant to be, not exactly. A delayed start due to technical issues to boot.
Last Night at the Circus by Jane Postlethwaite is, on paper, a comedy show about a woman going through some stuff, not unlike a thousand other stand-up acts everywhere. However, on the tiny container stage of the Warren, something altogether different took place.
Postlethwaite presented us with a confessional, a portrait of a wounded, wrecked woman. There was no enjoying the sunny Fringe afternoon, for Postlethwaite was busy showing us the dark corners of her mind partially stuck in unhappier days. We witnessed expressive costuming on a vague circus theme, and sincere delivery of various degrees of awkwardness. There was a positive, even a humorous tone with the narration that revolved around relationships, but Postlethwaite was unable to step beyond her own experience and so failed to evoke much emotion beyond pity.
The session was intimate and candid and real in the most palpable way, but ultimately felt long and poorly paced. Postlethwaite's detuned sharing rendered a fundamentally showless show. In a sense it offered an intriguing challenge to what a Fringe show can be, but more concretely it was a non-comedy hour of emotional filler. Throughout, there was a distinct lack of perspective and a profound self-centeredness that is difficult to enjoy or appreciate.
This cathartic grind is difficult to recommend to anyone. And yet Postlethwaite's comic irony is there, and she also has the charisma to carry a show. And these things ought be more often on stage. But there's a bit more to a show than just showing up and telling about your bad breakup, your trashed futures, and the subsequent dark chaos that descended upon you.