Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Boxed In

Rose Wardle and Lily Beck in Boxed In at Cellar, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: James Booth Rose Wardle and Lily Beck in Boxed In at Cellar, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: James Booth
by -

This year’s offering from Fringe First nominees Portmanteau is a devised piece that examines how adults are so often shaped or boxed in by the restrictions of gender. James is a successful, assertive banker, while his twin Jessica flounders as diffident secretary in marketing. When their parents decide to sell the family home, they are invited to collect the remnants of their youth. The contents of the toy boxes initially provoke gleeful nostalgia, but they both soon realise how their present circumstances were irrevocably forged in those early years.

Boxed In combines lively story-telling techniques and verbatim but in the process of its dramaturgy, Portmanteau get bogged down with slightly indulgent flights of fancy over toys and bands. The play finally gets into its stride as this pair from the Tamagotchi generation contemplate their own futures as parents, forcing them to reappraise the experiences of their youth.

The role of the conflicted Jessica is played with energy and conviction by Lily Beck but to highlight issues of gender conformity, James is portrayed by Rose Wardle. Wardle carries the role well and has a great chemistry with Beck, but it’s a conceit that muddies the water rather than clarifying the issue.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Occasionally indulgent but well-meaning skit on the pressure of gender stereotyping
Paul Vale
Paul has been writing for The Stage since 1998 as a critic and feature writer. He is also part of The Stage's Edinburgh Fringe review team.