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Holly Burn: At Home With Holly - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

I don’t really want to describe some of the incidents that happen in this show, taking place in the flat Holly Burn is also living in for the duration of the festival. It’s not for fear of giving the game away for future audiences, but rather that any such account is likely to lead to Burn’s sectioning.

Surreal is one thing; here you genuinely fear for her state of mind. Laughs come from a combination of trying to humour her, as you would a toddler showing off, or out of sheer nervousness, as you attempt to diffuse a worrying situation.

A group of a dozen or so meet outside the New Town flat at the allotted wacky time of 3.07pm, and are shown in by Holly’s flatmate Sam, an old-fashioned cassette recorder strung around his neck to provide a soundtrack to the ‘spectacle’ we are about to witness.

Inside, all the props, food and even the dog are made out of cardboard, as in Kirsten Schaal’s viral video hit Penelope: Princess Of Pets – but that’s, unfortunately, where the comparison ends.

Burn delights in making us feel awkward as she shows us around her ‘maison d’etre’ – one of the few actual jokes in the hour-long visit. Packed sardine-tight into each room in turn, the house guests get a peek into her jumbled mind as she talks us through her life or orchestrates a prepared scene of domestic oddness.

Occasionally it’s strange in a good way, rather than just a stare-awkwardly-at-your-shoes way, and there is one coup de theatre that is hard to see coming.

You might want to go for the unique experience, as this is the sort of show that you can only ever really see at Edinburgh – but it’s unfortunate for Burn that Mark Watson’s The Hotel (in which she also has a role) offers something similar, and much better thought-through, in the very same year she had her idea.

Review date: 22 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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