Theatre review: Torch

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There are so many reasons to love this show.

Star rating: ***
Venue: Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61)

First is the terrific performance by Jess Mabel Jones, intelligent, spirited and spontaneous, exactly in tune with the tight poetic rhythms of Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s script. There’s a special dynamic in the way she repeatedly interrupts the story to give gutsy renditions of alt-rock standards and pop diva favourites. It brings out the scuzzy theatricality of Jessica Edwards’ production.

The set by Amelia Jane Hankin makes the most of Fringe restrictions, defining the space with four wooden posts, each holding two dozen light bulbs, connected on two sides by rows of black balloons. It’s chic and classy.

So far, so energised. The problem is there’s nothing at stake. Jones plays a woman in her late 20s starting to feel her age as she hits a nightclub and reflecting on her life so far. She ticks off a familiar litany (sex with boys, sex with girls, eating disorders, acquaintance rape, miscarriage) dwelling on none for long enough to make you care. It’s an attempt to explore “what it means to be a woman” but it’s too ordinary in its concerns to be dramatically compelling.

Until 28 August. Today 8:50pm.

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