How Does a Snake Shed its Skin?, Summerhall, comedy review: 'Susanna Hislop is warm-hearted and intelligent'
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Sparkily funny piece reveals darker undercurrents
How do you stage a one-woman show about three different women - Virginia Woolf, Marilyn Monroe and Margaret Thatcher - all at the same time? If you're Susanna Hislop, with wit, dexterity and focused intensity.
Directed by Anna Ledwich, How does a Snake... uses diary entries and letters, as well as famous quotes, from her subjects; it may appear chaotic (food and clothing go flying round the room) but is carefully constructed, with Hislop's own tragi-comic diary entries as an 11-year-old stirred in.
Slowly, this sparkily funny piece reveals darker undercurrents: the pressure society (for there is such a thing) places on women and the ways mental illness can manifest.
The personas she adopts may be self-consciously OTT - she broadly sends up actorly pretensions around 'inhabiting a role' - but Hislop is nimble at switching between them.
Her script finds resonances and echoes across their own words, revealing common preoccupations to Monroe, Woolf and Thatcher that, at first, seem unlikely.
With great talent comes great dysfunction, Hislop suggests. But this is a warm-hearted and intelligent attempt to get under the skin of three genuinely iconic women - and to get a little more comfortable in her own.
To 24 August, edfringe.com
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
- 2 Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
- 3 Alton Towers crash: Four seriously injured and 16 guests trapped as Smiler ride carriages collide
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers