Theatre review: Egg

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: “Stay in your shell and shut up,” people say. Or “Where’s the chicken?”

Bourbon Bar (Venue 333)

****

“Stay in your shell and shut up,” people say. Or “Where’s the chicken?” She’s an egg, standing on stage underneath the green yellow club lighting of the Bourbon Bar’s womb-like arches. A mysterious, disembodied voice speaks: “The egg is the symbolic of creation; the vessel great work is consummated in.”

Normally the punchline of jokes, here the egg reclaims its image: as the giver of life and a symbol of womanhood – but is funny in the way anyone who “hatches” out of a shell, and runs, chicken-like, around the room can’t really not be. Through the story of a “rebirth”, this curious creature tries to achieve her “potential” in a world where people like her “aren’t given a seat at the table – but they are allowed to clear that table”.

Creator Theodora van der Beek is a brilliantly understated comic writer and performer who draws on the work of Andy Warhol and Lady Gaga, as well as the punk spirit of Deborah Harry and the Sex Pistols to create a highly original stripped-back sci-fi comic-tragedy, delivered with the dry, self-knowing narration of a piece of pulp fiction.

Tim Spooner’s outlandish but ethereal costume enables our aspiring heroine to waddle, clown-like and wide-eyed in a plastic membrane that renders her simultaneously sad and surreally funny. “You stupid whore,” says the robotic voice of her god-like shell, as she embraces the idea that her value can only be measured by the volume of men’s whistles when she eats a banana.

Ultimately she fails to become the woman she was meant to be. However, lying dying in her own egg white, she finally sees the limitations others have placed on her: “Inside the chicken, I crossed a road.” Rarely has an egg joke been used to create such a melancholic, joyful and profound conclusion to a truly original play.

Until 27 August. Today 2:15pm.