Eme Essien: Flat Shoes In The Club | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Eme Essien: Flat Shoes In The Club

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Eme Essien’s debut would unquestionably be better served appearing in the theatre section of the Fringe brochure. But this one-woman playlet seeks to tackle the age-old male gripe, beloved of comics of a certain vintage: what takes girls so long to get ready for a night out?

For Essien’s unnamed protagonist, the short answer is paralysing insecurity. Yet over a gently entertaining hour, in which she interacts with other characters through relayed phone and Skype conversations, she successfully builds up a collage of a young black woman oppressed by cultural, family and gender-based expectations, capably synthesising her twin aims of social critique and playful humour.

An immediate disclaimer would be that her character doesn’t seem the most perceptive, flirting with a guy she met at the club who’s brandishing countless red flags. However, Essien herself is clear-sighted about the compromises required in relationships and the need to potentially settle, while her suitor, father of kids by different baby mamas is not simply the fly-by-night ‘fuckboy’ he initially seems, sustaining the conversation with charm and intermittent moments of apparent honesty.

Elsewhere, a venerable auntie calls and dumps all the baggage of immigrant expectation of hard work and a good job on her, unhelpfully getting the wrong end of the stick. And the girl moans and gossips about her friends with her other friends, her internalised sexism and compromised feminism, the gaps between what she thinks and how she speaks, reflected in the differing dialogues the audience and even her closest friend are privy to.

Stuck in a self-generated holding pattern, in that the girl’s indecisiveness prompts further calls and interruptions, sympathy for her waxes and wanes. But Essien is accomplished at retaining your empathy, often the merest flicker in her eyes the unwitting testimony of what she’s really thinking. Moreover, while she may be indecisive, she’s not without a youthful, expressive sense of fun, dancing hedonistically to the radio, miming the tunes into her hairbrush.

Scripted with nuance and self-mocking humour, with the funnies lines almost exclusively given to the supporting characters, Flat Shoes In The Club is a nicely contained, none-too-revelatory but compelling piece. Essien is a bright, lively presence who treats some pretty serious subject matter with a light, engaging touch.

Eme Essien: Flat Shoes In The Club is on at Underbelly Bristo Square at 5.45pm

Review date: 5 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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