You’ll be hard pressed to find a solo performer more fearless than Catriona Knox at this year’s Fringe. The comedy actress, whose show centres around multiple portrayals of famous leaders’ wives, doesn’t particularly deal in direct impressions so much as acute character studies, which are always shot through with her own distinct personality.
“incisive, important comedy”
The show features, to name a few, Melania Trump, Kirsten Farage, Anne Boleyn, and perhaps best of all, Theresa May’s husband, Phillip. In the same manner as Margaret Atwood’s Gertrude Talks Back, which gave greater voice to a number of literature’s underwritten women, Knox injects these non-fictional beings with agency, ferocity and an independence we rarely, if ever, see in their daily lives. The show therefore, which is warm, funny and inclusive throughout, is underpinned by a strongly resonant feminist angle, particularly when her Ann Boleyn ends the show with a literal call-to-arms.
As mentioned, Knox shows a daring unpredictability in her performance which constantly has the audience on edge, particularly when she uses them for a brilliantly bizarre range of duties, from an extended massage treatment to the re-enactment of Theresa and Phillip’s first night together. Particularly entertaining was one poor man’s coercion and subsequent attempt to construct the First Lady’s portrait, which ended in disastrous and hilarious consequences.
The show’s beating heart was Knox’s portrayal of a cowed Phillip May, not only because it showed Knox’s fondness for gender-liminality in performance, but because the portrayal was such a caricature that it became something new entirely. May was shown to be advertising a joint show with his wife at the Fringe, nervously selling flyers on the Royal Mile in a vain attempt to make the couple appear relatable and accessible, much as they failed in their disastrous appearance on the BBC’s One Show during the election.
Adorable Depolorable is one of the most riotous hours you could spend at the Fringe, but it’s also one of the most thought-provoking. Probing the lives of those women who appear to only function as eye candy or a cipher for their powerful, destructive husbands (with Melania feeling most relevant at present) is incisive, important comedy and Knox is therefore one to watch this year.
Pleasance Dome – Jack Dome, 2nd – 28th August (not 15th ), 16:50
Image: Rick Dyson Photography