Vanity Bites Back

Vanity Bites Back is a clown show about anorexia. If that sounds dark to you, then you’re kind of right - it blurs the line between comedy and tragedy to tremendous effect. Helen Duff’s show mocks our Great British Bake Off obsessed culture and our schizophrenic relationship with food, whilst tearing apart our expectations of women and the concept of perfection. Duff plays Jill, a Nigella Lawson style TV chef, and is an incredibly playful and generous performer, offering us biscuits as we enter and inviting us to play games (my personal favourite was guessing what food she was impersonating).

Duff creates a character that is as heart-breaking as it is hilarious, searching for self-worth in the perfect cheesecake.

Duff creates a character that is as heart-breaking as it is hilarious, searching for self-worth in the perfect cheesecake. We’re by her side as she smashes a tower of biscuits to bits and attempts to melt a block of butter without an oven or microwave in sight. Sometimes it’s quite terrifying being in this tiny room with a madwoman, but this is one of the most necessary viewing experiences I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe. Every step of the way, you see the pain involved in not being able to talk about her anorexia and lack of self-esteem; by the end, your perspective will have completely changed.

Duff delivers a whirlwind performance that will only get better as she gains more experience - there are points when she seems to be finding her feet with audience interaction - but she is definitely not one to miss this Fringe. If you are a fan of Gaulier-trained clowning such as Red Bastard or Kraken, then Vanity Bites Back will be right up your street. And as with this style of show, the more you put in, the more you get out. My only piece of advice is: take the biscuit.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Since you’re here…

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A 'bold, subversive and very funny' (Scotsman) comedy cooking show about searching for self-worth in a cheesecake. Meet Jill 'a cross between Alan Partridge and Margaret Thatcher ... fresh, quick-witted and supremely empowered' **** (Scotsman). Fringe First-nominated. 'Duff has a natural aura that makes her performance seem effortless' ***** (RipItUp.com.au). 'A powerhouse performance ... hilarious experience' **** (BroadwayBaby.com). 'A very talented storyteller, clown, comedian and actress rolled into one wide eyed bundle of talent' (FringeReview.co.uk). VAULT Festival award winner 2015.

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