Sophie Wu, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh College of Art, review: 'A wicked eye for detail'

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: Wu won't be playing small rooms for long

Fans of Fresh Meat will know Sophie Wu as Heather, the unhinged dentistry student who stalked Kingsley until he meekly became her boyfriend in season two of the student sitcom.

In this, her one-woman show, "Sophie Wu is Minging, She Looks Like She's Dead", to give it its full, pungently teenaged title, she plays an only slightly less unhinged version of her younger self.

Dressed in a white school shirt, black trousers and brown Kickers, the fresh-faced actress tells the engaging and frequently very funny tale of a troubled adolescence, shot through with gloriously nostalgic 90s references to Buffalo trainers and Baby D.

Sophie is a classic misfit - uncomfortable everywhere and most of all in her own eczema-plagued skin. The home she shares with her mother in Edinburgh is a "lethal cocktail of puberty and menopause in a shoebox flat." School is worse: a lonely jungle of insults and solitary lunch-breaks, which she mainly spends in the art block, carving a miniature coffin.

The play opens with her accepting a rare invitation to a house party, which starts badly and ends with her being locked in the cupboard under the stairs. From here on in, it is a cringingly relatable hour of acne, awkward dates, discos, bullies, hopeless crushes, nightclub debuts and even an hilariously misguided attempt to seduce a teacher ("I've just started my period, Sir.")

There are shades of Adrian Mole in Wu's wicked eye for detail and straight-faced narration of the absurd obsessions and self-indulgences of adolescence. But there's an affecting darkness too, in the tales of attempted overdose and early heartbreak.

Wu is a gifted performer, evoking the flailing limbs of the school dance or the awkward tension of sharing her crush's desk, with vivid wit. Already a notable comic actress, this monologue marks her out as a talented writer, too. She won't be playing rooms this small for long.

To 24 August (freefringe.org.uk)

Comments