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Diary of an Expat review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘a warm, engaging presence’

Cecilia Gragani in Diary of an Expat at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: The Other Richard Cecilia Gragani in Diary of an Expat at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: The Other Richard

Cecilia Gragani is an Italian who lived in London for 10 years. She likes it here and would like to stay but the referendum has cast a shadow of uncertainty over her life. How can you plan for the future when you have no idea what that future will hold? What will it mean for your relationship? Or any children you end up having?

This could have been an angry show but Gragani doesn’t go down that road. She’s a warm, engaging presence even as she makes it clear that life in the UK is no picnic. She describes living hand-to-mouth in minimum-wage jobs and being patronised by her neighbours. She amusingly recounts the tangles people get in trying to pronounce her name.

Standing amid Rasa Selemonaviciute’s set, a miniature cardboard city, she reads from a book designed to test would-be citizens about UK life and her own mixture of pleasure and unease about being misidentified as English while on a plane to Italy.

It’s clearly a personal piece and it’s a vital reminder of how destabilising Brexit will be for vast numbers of people who call the UK home. Katharina Reinthaller’s direction feels a bit baggy and formless though – it doesn’t have much of trajectory and relies overmuch on Gragani’s amiable presence as a performer.

Verdict
Amiable if meandering one-woman show about being a Italian expat in London under the shadow of Brexit
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