Lucy Pearman: Baggage | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Lucy Pearman: Baggage

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

A challenge you can undertake with committed, absurdist shows like Lucy Pearman’s is trying to spot the tiny seeds of genuine feeling that seem to have inspired the flamboyant, abstract clowning.

In Baggage, it’s the visual image of a depressed Pearman being found by her Airbnb landlord with her suitcase on top of her after she tripped. And it’s a brief but none-too-subtle, resigned admission towards the end that there are some things we just can’t leave behind.

Which is an admittedly maudlin assessment of what’s a typically fun, colourful romp from the incorrigible goofball, even allowing for a previously unseen edge in her audience interaction; an extra element of confrontation where previously there was more overt collaboration. Certainly, it’s a toss-up as to where you sit for this show, better sightlines coming with the increased risk of being dragged into the action.

Pearman bounces out encased in a giant suitcase, which she clothes and imbues with its own character. Spinning to become protectively wrapped in cling film, she confuses ‘volunteers’ she pulls from the crowd with her conflicting instructions, as Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag plays.

It looks like an oven in the props-packed costume. And Pearman emerges soon afterwards in a bodysuit soaked in sweat, the perspiration becoming a prop in the messy displays of degradation to come. A hyper-androgynous figure, she allows herself an extended spell of blissful, uncontrolled relief.

Divesting herself of successive layers to the point of barely retaining physical embodiment on stage, Pearman simultaneously acquires make-up on top of make-up, cycling through various guises as she strives to make herself acceptable to pass through aggressive airport security. 

Though mostly knockabout nonsense of confounding expectation and the mild humiliation of her volunteers, there’s also an extended, wretched flirtation with one repeat participant, as she struggles to recreate the corporeal intimacy she had with her ex-partner.

For all this physical play, and a need to be in constant motion, the funniest, darkest, most profound section is a bit where Pearman literally only appears as a mouthpiece for the audience’s anonymous disclosures, submitted on Post-Its, of what they might do if they had no fear.

Plucked from today’s show and the most striking examples from her Fringe run, they’re a bathetic mix of the moving, the riotously unfettered and the startlingly bleak, prompting audible hilarity, winces and sighs of compassion, even as the giggling Pearman struggles to hold it together.

With a more melancholic and personal aspect than her previous Edinburgh hours, Baggage rather invites the description of being a mixed bag, but it’s an entertaining flight of silliness regardless.

Review date: 23 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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