Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, Edinburgh
Guest reviewer: Suzanne O’Brien
Madame George, by award-winning playwright Keir McAllister at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose on Chambers Street is a dark comedy filled with easy laughs that are tinged with a great sadness.
Directed by Jen McGregor for Watch This Space Productions, the play tells the story of the delusional Madame George, played by JoJo Sutherland, who continues her dead mother’s legacy as a psychic.
It appears that Madame George has fallen into a deep depression and, when not connecting her only client with the dead, she is in a complete slump. Only when she thinks she is finally sent a sign from her mother does she gain a new lease of life.
Sutherland brings an energy – which is clear Madame George hasn’t felt for a long time – and the excitement she is expresses is palpable. However, all takes a turn for the worst on the arrival of a young women, Daisy, played by Jay Lafferty, who comes to confront her.
Sutherland makes it clear before the performance even begins that Madame George is in a state of despair as she lies sleeping surrounded by the chaos of her flat. Her lack of motivation is shown with over exaggerated heavy movements and a completely unkempt appearance.
Both the other characters are well presented and their smart attire only further highlights the downward spiral Madame George is going through.
Paul Sneddon plays her oldest client Mr Doyle, a family friend and one of her neighbours, who she connects with his dead wife. Sneddon and Sutherland have a great chemistry and, despite Madame George’s bitterness and their somewhat strange interactions, he seems to have an underlying care for her which becomes more evident as the play progresses. The contrasting personalities of the characters creates an interesting dynamic within the piece.
The comedy that features in the performance is very simple and relatable, it comes from normal conversations between the pair, making for an easy watch. Sutherland also brings a lot of comedy with her ostentatious movements when going into a trance or connecting with the dead.
The piece is beautifully accompanied by a live score composed and performed by Dave BeMac which brings a slightly dreamy essence to the play. There is a clever use the side doors on stage, giving the illusions of other rooms within the flat.
The piece however, fails to leave a lasting impact and the conclusion doesn’t bring much satisfaction. Elements are very touching and it is well presented but more could be done.
This hour long play shows the lengths people will go to for their lost loved ones. The elements of comedy littered throughout, highlight the sadness of their situations.
Running time: One hour (no interval)
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 3 Chambers St, EH1 1HT (Venue 24)
Wednesday 31 July – Monday 26 August 2019
Daily (not Mon 19): 1pm.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/madame-george-by-keir-mcallister
JoJo Sutherland and Paul Sneddon. Pic: Andrew Perry