Spill Your Guts Here at the Edinburgh Fringe Show
Amongst the myriad layers of theatre, comedy, performance and pure madness that fills the streets of Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival every year, it can be hard to find productions that resonate. Spill Your Guts Here, written and performed by Sophie Lakely, is one such show that not only captures the filthy, embarrassing parts of being an intelligent young woman in 2016, but the desolation of heartbreak and the dangers of allowing yourself to fall into a void. “When did it become so uncool to struggle after a break up?” wonders our heroine Becky, before reminding us that relationships do not end with a perfect Facebook profile picture but rather “your head in a toilet at 4am.”
Following in the footsteps of Jenny Slate, Greta Gerwig and Lena Dunahm, who all write/direct/perform in work that comments on the uglier side of being a Gen-Y woman, Sophie Lakely writes with a foul-mouthed Bukowski-esque ferocity. In her own words, she went through an earth shattering break-up and, through the haze of loneliness and whiskey, decided to use her misery to inspire a one-woman show. After a scratch night in Hackney, Directors Olivia Meguer and Jackie Fisher joined her and the show is at Edinburgh for the whole of August.
Becky’s story begins with the break-down of her relationship, and swiftly spirals into the, slightly narcissistic, pit of misery and self-pity that we all experience in heart-break. Visceral, uncomfortably honest writing underpins a production that’s minimalist staging and props serve to highlight her desolate loneliness, whilst giving the experience a pretty casual vibe. At times it feels like we are down the pub with a spectacularly witty mate discussing the joys of living and dying. Moments of clarity then, where Becky allows herself enough stillness and quiet for us to momentarily peek into her soul then become that much more profound. And we can all relate to each other when it comes to loves lost – but it is particularly refreshing to be drawn into the narrative of a young woman clinging onto the coat-tails of a break down and asking to be pushed further in.
Becky asks the questions we have all struggled with post-break up and in the midst of heartbreak, but that we are sometimes too shy to say aloud. How long can I mope in my flat before my friends think I’ve died? Is using sex toys my ex bought me with someone else kind of like cheating? Regardless of the subject matter however, it’s not kitchen-sink drama. Lakely’s dry wit in the writing shines through, in self-deprecating honesty and often Bret Eaton-Eliss esque cold calculation of her ever sinking morale and increasing alcoholism. We are never asked to pity her, merely to observe her journey towards a shocking moment of masochistic self-punishment. I left the theatre feeling not only relieved that someone else Facebook stalks their exes as much as I do, but that maybe the darkest and loneliest times of our life can be doorways to self-discovery of the greatest kind. Via whiskey, obviously. When in Scotland after all…
photos/artwork by Pencil Bandit