How (Not) to Live in Suburbia review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘frank, funny and compassionate’

How (Not) to Live in Suburbia at Summerhall, Edinburgh
How (Not) to Live in Suburbia at Summerhall, Edinburgh

Enter the Walrus of Loneliness. Enter the Seal of Shame. Annie Siddons’ funny, open-hearted new show How (Not) to Live in Suburbia is a confessional performance on the accruing of sea mammals, and the ease with which even the most gregarious of people can slide into isolation.

The sea mammals in question are beastly representations of the crippling emotions that Siddons finds herself in following a series of break-ups and set-backs. They come to life in sharp film sketches directed by cinematic recreationist par excellence Richard DeDomenici, and strut on to stage to hector and jeer.

The strength of Siddons’ show is in its honesty and its detail, the strains of single-parenting, of a life in the arts, of retaining some rebel integrity into your 40s are all nailed with lepidopterist precision. Siddons brings two olive trees to stand in for her anonymous children, and like the gruesome sea mammals that pursue her, they’re brilliant symbols of the delicacy and unwieldiness of young children.

As great as the video elements are, Siddons probably allows them to swallow up a touch too much stage time, occupying as they do almost half of the hour. But that’s only because she’s such an engaging performer, and her story so heartfelt and courageously told, that you’re yearning to see it live and loud from her own mouth.

Verdict
Frank, funny and compassionate confessional from Annie Siddons, with witty video elements and looming sea mammals
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