Written and performed by Agustina Dieguez Buccella, Fragile is a one-woman show of how fierce independence is also isolating and can mask loneliness. It is very personal, emotionally explorative and honest and as she says to the audience after the show is over, it’s based on her true life experiences.

some very well written pieces within the whole

This is profound subject matter and some very well written pieces within the whole. The in depth exploration of self, trying to discover how she became this way: so guarded and so very protected is very real and full of openness. This is juxtaposed with some well observed comedy, but the travel between the two extremes is slightly confusing and often jarring. Of course an otherwise heavy piece needs some lightness but there is so much comedy, played for laughs rather than played straight, which makes too much light of the message that she is trying to convey that it lessens it, which is a shame.

There is some multi rolling alongside her telling her story direct to the audience, and while some of this is done well, it’s also all for comedic effect. Intersected with this are some quite moving pieces of exposition of what it means to be a modern woman in charge of her own life and all the contradictions that this brings: being ladylike and demure yet independent; being a happy singleton and not needing anyone else yet feeling the need for others; feeling the pressure to present a happy face to the world and not even admit to herself all the insecurities and feelings that are teaming away underneath. This is something current and moving to explore, yet just like the character she is describing, whenever it gets too close and too exposing, she changes tack and there is more comedy.

The beginning is Agustina on a hiking trail alone, but the transitions between the mixture of performing the story and recounting to the audience and engaging them directly makes it problematic in the places where she is including us in the room, and the character is aware of us in the room, yet she says she’s alone. There are also two movement sections: one dance adding more comedy and one more abstract which is a little baffling. Some of the staging being low down or on the floor hasn’t taken account of the performance space, with only the first two rows being able to see those bits clearly.

Some of the deep dive into loneliness disguised as independence and keeping the heart protected is really worth listening to, although because of the direct address to the audience akin to a lecture, is at times reminiscent of a TED talk. There is a lovely section about how you can’t be selective about allowing feelings, that allowing the ones that you enjoy go hand in hand with those that are less pleasant: the clever metaphor she uses is if you tell someone you’ll fall in love with them but when you break up you won’t get upset. However, the show has an abrupt unexpected end, only indicated by the stage lights going off, and with no ending and definitely no resolution, it seems as if it is still in the middle of the story. Which indeed we are, as she explains after the show is over to everyone what actually happened when she experienced that situation in real life.

At 40 minutes running time, this has potential, but it needs to decide whether it is just a light hearted comedy night or a serious piece with some funny elements; the latter being how this version is billed. While some of the writing is really well crafted, it might be helpful for her to be clearer about what story she wants to tell and what message she wants to get across. If it’s a serious message then some of the comedy and playing things for laughs need to be dropped; if it’s a comedy then some of the heavier bits need to be taken out. This has possibilities in either direction, but at the moment it’s trying to be both, which is frustrating and disappointing.

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The Blurb

Based on real-life experiences, an independent and strong woman is in a dangerous and deadly situation, scared of being vulnerable and admitting that she needs help. When lost in the middle of the mountains, she realizes that she got it all wrong. In order to survive, she has to go back, get rid of all the layers that she is unnecessarily wearing, and admit that asking for help is her way out. The show explores this transition and it's filled with breakthroughs while revisiting moments of her past that have influenced her present behavior. Topics of loneliness disguised with independence and its consequences, as well as vulnerability and empowerment. After a successful run in Brighton, Bedford and Camden Fringe 2021, 'Fragile' returns to the stage; "Great writing and vulnerability throughout". "She was fabulous. It was a really thought-provoking and insightful plan and an excellent performance". "Very well written, funny, and an invitation to reflect". "Very relatable!" (audience)

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