Olives and Blowjobs

You’d be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the provocative title Olives and Blowjobs at Space Triplex. Unforgivable, however, would be to miss it. Ollie Maddigan’s 70-minute tour de force of ecstasy, emotion and grief, refracted through a kaleidoscopic teenage mind, is quickly becoming a Fringe highlight - and deservedly so!

Tour de force of ecstasy, emotion and grief

Taking its cue from the likes of Fleabag, the one-man confessional style is challenging for the best of performers. The play revolves around a 15-year-old coming to terms with his mother’s death, his father’s neglect and struggles with unemployment, drugs, alcohol, therapy and consent. How to square this, then, with the howling laughter that fills the theatre when Ollie begins to speak and move? Clad in a crumpled school uniform, there is something casual about Ollie’s acting style that puts an audience at ease to discuss even the most intense of subjects. And perhaps most importantly, Ollie appears to truly enjoy himself on stage, so we laugh alongside his teenage overreactions, caricatures of highschool friends and imitations of the unintelligible - but iconic - adolescent grunt.

As his cocky defensiveness burns itself out, however, Ollie’s monologue reaches its visceral climax, and it is moving to see male emotion struggle within a cage of stoicism and self-doubt. Ollie is at his best when he holds back his most intense outbursts for just the right moment, resisting the urge to thrash and rage until words can no longer do justice to his

feelings. PTSD? Our protagonist apologises: “Sorry guys… silly thoughts.”

Ollie’s knack for witty yet authentic writing is coupled with excellent staging that serves the story without distracting. Flashes of light book-end the play’s ebbs and flows for a rhythmical, finely-tuned pacing. Footage from Ollie’s family recordings play as he himself sits with us and watches them back, making for a hard-hitting reminder of the play’s basis in reality. Audience clustered around a young man with a very minimal set - a projector, a chair, and a water bottle occasionally doubling as a microphone - Olives and Blowjobs is a reminder of how few frills are needed when a true talent commands the stage.

Olives and Blowjobs, is perhaps not helped much by the title, but as a tightly-packed exploration of the paradoxes and pulsations of growing up, it is difficult to overestimate. And the flow of tears from many who witnessed it speaks for itself.

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Reviews by Daniel Pereira

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Olives and Blowjobs is a five-star coming-of age one-man show written and performed by Ollie Maddigan. Taken from tragic and comedic memories from his life, Olives and Blowjobs is the story of a 15-year-old boy who just wishes he could be a man. After the sudden death of his mother, a boy is forced to change schools and move in with his, until that point, absent father. A show full of grief, hope, olives and the occasional blowjob, this story is a touching depiction of grief in early adulthood.

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