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Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘striking individual moments’

Jess Love in Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Brig Bee Jess Love in Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl at Summerhall, Edinburgh. Photo: Brig Bee

Jess Love offers audience members a cup of tea and a biscuit as we file into the room. Her solo show, which merges circus with confessional, begins with her announcing: “Hello, I’m Jess, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Love comes from a family of clean-living teachers and missionaries in Tasmania. Yet she has snorted, smoked and imbibed anything she can get her hands on since she was a kid. She’s hit rock bottom, several times, while naked.

She uses the show to explore the genetic factors that play a part in addiction and the kinship she feels with an ancestor – the titular strumpet – prone to boozing and rebellion.

She intersperses these discussions with circus routines – including a hula hoop striptease – and careens around the room as if inebriated inviting all and sundry to join her in a threesome.

There are some striking individual moments. She skips furiously in retaliation at the indignities suffered by her rebellious relative and balances, precarious, exposed and vulnerable, on top of the bottles that have dominated and damaged her life.

Love is good company throughout but the show is almost too polished in places, its mixture of flippancy, slickness and earnestness sitting uneasily together at times.

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Entertaining if sometimes frustrating fusion of circus and confessional about alcoholism and addiction