Sparks (Michelle Barnette and Flipping The Bird with HighTide) - Edfringe Review

Sparks (Michelle Barnette and Flipping The Bird with HighTide) - Edfringe Review

Growing up is definitely not easy. Although Sparks may not have the answers, it is a delicate but incredibly powerful hymn to the uncertainty of adult life which beautifully handles themes of life, love and grief.

I came into this play expecting something emotional but was not prepared to be as gripped as I was. Jessica Butcher, the actress and scriptwriter, has the rare ability to be instantly and incredibly likeable, gently inviting the audience into the protagonist’s life in a way that makes us feel genuinely special. I ended up utterly invested as she leads us through questions of how to ‘adult’ without a role model, with questions like “do I have a dentist” that hit a little too close to home for me as a recent graduate.

Sparks is also fascinating in its combination of emotional poignancy with moments of almost youthful liveliness. Butcher moves with freedom, throwing herself around in a game of laser tag or dragging herself across the floor as her emotions weigh her down. The staging really brings out these themes decorated by a simple tepee and tape hopscotch, re-imagined as the tight-ropes we walk in life.

“a delicate but incredibly powerful hymn to the uncertainty of adult”

These waves of emotion are compounded by waves of breezy yet strangely poignant music, written by the brilliant Anoushka Lucas. Lucas performs on a keyboard onstage, adding a vital element to this production as the play’s emotional core. This marriage of music, audience address and physical theatre succeed brilliantly.

More than anything, this is a play about a mother-daughter relationship. Without giving too much away, by the end of the performance I had tears running down my face and all I could think about was that I needed to call home. And from the not-so-well-hidden sniffs coming from the audience, it seems that everyone else was thinking that too.

This production’s combination of genuine fun and raw grief made me laugh and made my heart ache. A new piece of writing devastating in its tenderness and simplicity that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

Sparks is running at Pleasance Courtyard August 21-26th. Tickets can be purchased here.

5/5

Image: The Other Richard

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