Juliette Burton: Decision Time | Review by Paul Fleckney
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Juliette Burton: Decision Time

Review by Paul Fleckney

The 2016 Fringe has cemented mental health as a dominant theme in comedy, on the live scene, at least. Edinburgh is certainly doing its bit to destigmatise the subject, and get people to open up about it (whether it fades as an issue next year will be interesting to see).

Few comics are as open on the subject as Juliette Burton is. The list of diagnoses she’s accrued over the years is eye-popping, and now she’s hit a period of relative stability she’s able to look back with considerable wisdom on what she’s been through.

Noticeably there’s little in the show’s title or the promotion to suggest that Decision Time is largely about mental health – her big, welcoming grin and her bright, colourful posters point towards something more ukulele-based, I’d say. But they do effectively sell the tone of the show. Burton has a Blue Peter-ish charm to her that makes her a delightful company for an hour.

Decision Time refers to her being at a fork in the road in her life, facing up to whether she should get married or not. The trouble is, she says, she’s pathologically scared of making big decisions and of change, but by the end of the Fringe she will make her mind up.

Burton looks at the various decisions that have affected her life most of all, whether she made them or her parents did. There was boarding school, then her move into TV and comedy which has left her a 'penniless performer' compared to her more conventionally 'successful' sister. Then there was the decision to flirt with a barman who’s become the love of her life. Backed unobtrusively by a projector, there’s a nice Choose Your Own Adventure framing to the show, which is certainly one way of looking our journey through life.

The show might be unflinching in what it reveals about her own depression, sectioning and bulimia, but it’s a remarkably accessible show. Burton should also be credited for the 'if any of the themes in this show affect you' postscript, so Decision Time might have some positive impact.

All the while, Burton places herself in relation to her family, as the daughter whom her parents worry about. Her mum is the ultra-polite English lady, her dad an old-fashioned traditionalist. How exactly her mental health problems were taken and dealt with by her family could have been explored much more, but perhaps that’s another show altogether.

Being onstage is what makes Burton feels alive, she says. This is evident in her gleeful manner of performance – you suspect she’d rather not have to finish Decision Time if she didn’t have to. It’s not a hilarious comedy show but it is engaging, interesting, and leaves you with a surprisingly warm glow.

Review date: 22 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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