This is not a nice Fringe for comedy. It is riven with division and seems in thrall to the semi-professional sufferers and their life stories, happy to substitute self-satisfied self-obsession for craft, talent and laughs. But still insistent that it is comedy. Because that gets you more attention.
Reach in and put a string of lights round your heart
Imagine then, my delight at being misdirected into Activities of Daily Living, a show that turns out to be theatre, and getting to spend an hour in the company of Joanna Lipari.
In fact, if you are reading this within walking distance of Gilded Balloon Teviot and you can get there by 1.45pm, just stop reading now and give yourself this hour which will, to quote novelist Jane Rule, “reach in and put a string of lights round your heart.”
Her Sicilian father and Czech mother must have made the perfect genetic mix, because so much of what Lipari has cannot be learned. It is a kind of calm, intelligent star quality. You cannot take your eyes off her. You do not want to miss a word she says. She is spell-binding.
Her theme is her life, all 73 well-lived years of it. Every single self-obsessed baby performer filling an hour of my life with the perceived problems of theirs need to come and see this beautiful show. Through rape and the 1960s, when men were men and REALLY knew how to discriminate against women, through love and loss, marriage, Montana and death, past Mayan fetishes and elves and twig men on a tree of life to snot, swollen feet and the social invisibility of the older woman, we follow this incredible actress, with the gentle voice and the truth in her eyes.
Lipari creates her own world not just in words and memories, but in adorable, minimal animations projected behind her, with which she interacts.
This is a show where a beautiful, creative, talented, charismatic woman pretty much gives the gift of her incredible life to you, all wrapped up in silken threads of humour, and writing and performance skill. I have never sat in an audience and felt quite so… the only word I can think of is 'honoured' to be there.