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Sparks review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘raw and emotive mixture of music and storytelling’

Jessica Butcher and Anoushka Lucas in Sparks, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: The Other Richard

Sparks is one of those shows that makes you want to call the people in your life that you love and hear their voices. It’s a raw and frequently moving piece of musical storytelling by actor and writer Jessica Butcher about the tidal wave of grief that comes from losing a parent and losing them slowly, a piece at time.

Butcher, in grey tracksuit bottoms, and Anoushka Lucas, in gleaming eveningwear, voice the same character, one speaking, one singing.

The show starts by telling a not unfamiliar story of a young woman looking for love, meeting a guy and their relationship developing. But underneath this is a sense of something amiss, an absence. Her mother is no longer there to answer the phone or answer her questions. Multiple sclerosis gradually unravelled her.

Butcher mimics the mother’s slurred speech as the disease takes hold. She hauls herself across the plastic sheeting on the floor, shattered. When Butcher has no words left, Lucas steps out from behind her keyboard to speak for her. Only gradually does she piece herself back together.

The nature of the story being told means its often incredibly emotional but there’s also something a bit uncontrolled about Jessica Edwards’ production, the emotions it unleashes too huge to be contained, the storytelling – physical and verbal – lacking clarity. It still cuts to the quick though; it still makes you ache.



Raw and emotive mixture of music and storytelling about grief

Production Information

Pleasance Courtyard
August 1, 2018
August 27, 2018
Jessica Butcher (text), Anoushka Lucas (music)
Jessica Edwards
Amelia Jane Hankin
Zoe Spurr
Alexandra Faye Braithwaite
Cast includes
Jessica Butcher, Anoushka Lucas
Michelle Barnette Productions, Flipping the Bird, HighTide
Running time