‘Genre-defining’: ELECTROLYTE – Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★

In Edinburgh Festival, Festivals, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – until 26 August 2019

One of the breakout hits of last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Wildcard Theatre returns in 2019 for a new run of its acclaimed show Electrolyte at Pleasance Forth. Written by James Meteyard, it features music and lyrics from Maimuna Memon. Electrolyte is a perfect example of the still emerging genre that is ‘gig theatre’; slightly more musical than a play with songs, but at the same time definitely not a musical, gig theatre is an intriguing and welcome addition to the theatrical spectrum.

From a fairly informal beginning, the audience piling in as the band do some last-minute tuning up, everything comes together and Jessie’s story can begin. She’s been having a tough time of it following her dad’s death, but a glimmer of light comes into her life when she hears Allie Touch singing at a gig – keen to start afresh and get back in touch with her mum, she takes Allie up on her offer of a place to stay in London. However, things go far from smoothly for Jessie, who’s left wondering what is and isn’t real…

Spoken word combines with the musical element brilliantly, creating a feeling of ever-pulsating rhythm – it also works well at times of heightened emotion, conveying Jessie’s ever-increasing distress as she starts to feel as if her world is closing in on her. The various styles of music included in the show help to change up the pace, going from loud and heavy drum and bass to the quiet intimacy of an acoustic guitar – add in Memon’s stunning vocals and you’re really onto a winner.

Ben Simon, Chris Georgiou and James Meteyard make up the rest of the band (also playing Paul, Ralph and Jim), and the whole thing is fronted by Olivia Sweeney as Jessie. Part frontwoman, part leading lady, to start with Sweeney paints Jessie as something of a lovable rogue – but underneath it all she’s simply vulnerable and scared. Coming to terms with grief is difficult enough as it is, but for Jessie it’s doubly hard as she has her own demons to confront; as the show goes on, the audience becomes more of a friend to Jessie – and one that she’s comfortable about confiding in.

It’s an inspired way to keep the mental health conversation going – a genre-defining piece of theatre to which a new audience can definitely relate.

Electrolyte Photo credit: Joey Dawson

My verdict? A special piece of theatre that fuses spoken word with all the key components of a gig – a great way to keep the mental health conversation going.

Rating: 4*

Electrolyte runs at Pleasance Courtyard (Forth) until 26 August 2019. Tickets are available online or from the box office.

Tags: Ben Simon, Chris Georgiou, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Electrolyte, James Meteyard, Maimuna Memon, Olivia Sweeney, Pleasance Courtyard, review, theatre, Wildcard TheatreCategories: all posts, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, review, theatre

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Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.
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Debbie Gilpin on FacebookDebbie Gilpin on RssDebbie Gilpin on Twitter
Debbie Gilpin
Debbie Gilpin stumbled into writing about theatre when she moved to London after studying for a degree in Human Genetics at Newcastle University. She started her website Mind the Blog in November 2014 and also tweets from @Mind_the_Blog. She spent the best part of 2014-16 inadvertently documenting Sunny Afternoon in the West End, and now also writes for BroadwayWorld UK. Debbie’s theatre passions are Shakespeare and new writing, but she’s also a sucker for shows with a tap routine.

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