Who Are You Supposed To Be?
Starring Jen Lusk and Cameron K McEwan

Written by Keith Gow
Directed by Emrys Mathews
Runs until Aug 26 at C-Aquila, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, everyday at 3.40pm. Buy tickets HERE

The challenge
for any live show is in being able to grab the audience’s attention,
lead them into the world within which the performance is set, and keep
them there for the duration. Taking my seat in the small, darkened
Aquila Venue 21 on a sunny Friday afternoon, to the strains of Roberta
Tovey’s chirpy Who’s Who over the sound system (“…he’s quite at home
on a big spaceship, or sitting on top of a horse…”), I suspected I was
in for entertainment of the quirky kind. I wasn’t disappointed;
rewarded with an hour’s amusement packed with enough geeky delights to
please a fanboy (or fangirl)’s soul – but with a charming story at its
heart.

Cameron K McEwan & Jennifer Lusk

The minimalist stage setting placed a heavy burden
on the shoulders of Jennifer Lusk and Cameron K McEwan to draw the
audience into their world, set in a sci-fi and fantasy convention
(Nerd-vana) and aside from a slightly subdued start by Lusk,
they shouldered it well. Their success in doing so was built on the
foundations of a quality script, but with the sparky performances of
McEwan and Lusk driving forward the narrative momentum. Their
quick-fire exchanges maintained a naturalistic feel throughout the
piece, as the duo meet and re-encounter each other throughout the course
of the convention, their relationship building as they wait out the
longueurs between discussion panels, autograph queues and best-dressed
conventioneer sessions.

The play provides rich pickings
for genre fans in the audience, with sci-fi and fantasy allusions
scattered throughout the dialogue like little Easter eggs, and there’s a
particular thrill in spotting some of the more obscure references. In
particular, there’s a delightful sequence riffing cleverly on Fifth
Doctor story titles, as Ash (Lusk) and Gene (McEwan) get nearer to the
front of an autograph queue in the hope of obtaining a signature from
the Fifth Doctor himself Peter (“the Guvnor”) Davison. The
humour of this sequence is however affectingly contrasted by Ash’s
vulnerability, as she reveals the extent to which she is constrained by
her panic attacks, unable to continue to the front of the queue to meet
her hero.

Both Gene and Ash are gradually revealed in
the course of the play, by narrative and through the performances of
McEwan and Lusk, to be more nuanced and believable than their initial
appearances as classic superfans might suggest. Gene’s history
involving his failed relationship with his ex-girlfriend (amusingly
signalled by the running gag of cleverly used incidental music)
gradually unfolds to expose his emotional frailties, hinting at the
deeper damage dealt to his confidence.

With each
carrying their own emotional baggage, the relationship between Gene and
Ash borders on abrasive at times, giving a real crackle and fizz to
their banter, energetically performed by Lusk and McEwan. The duo
challenge their respective views and prejudices, on gender-stereotypes
and the notion of the convention setting as a “safe space”. With Ash’s
determination to be seen as The Doctor rather than a companion, the
vexing question of whether and when there will ever be a female Doctor
Who is given a good airing.

The play is divided into
four “episodes” by cliffhangers in true-Who style, a narrative trick
that works effectively in allowing for the passage of time over the long
weekend of the convention setting, and in practical terms allows for
quick re-setting of the stage. This episodic approach lends itself
particularly well to a believable progression in Ash and Gene’s
developing interest in each other. It’s to the credit of all involved
that the temptation to neatly wrap the story up with a pat and
straightforward happy ending was avoided, instead opting for a more
believable denouement…but with a particularly entertaining costume
change, which this reviewer will resist the temptation to spoil!

The
flyer for Who Are You Supposed To Be? advertises the play as being a
love letter to what is it to be a fan, celebrating the notion of
pretending to be somebody else just for the hell of it. This sweetly
told and engagingly performed play more than matches up to what’s
promised. A show that’s well worth seeking out. 
BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Who Are You Supposed To Be? runs until Aug 26 at C-Aquila, Edinburgh, everyday at 3.40pm. 

1 COMMENT

  1. That's a really cool review… sounds like an awesome show, Cam, and I wish I was able to get to Edinburgh to see it, but you know, other side of the world and all that. If you ever upload a recording to the Webz, post a link! I'd love to watch/listen to it!

    And you're braver than me, I could never perform in front of an audience, so well done you 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.