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The Rebirth of Meadow Rain review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘a disarming show about controlling relationships’

Hannah Moss in The Rebirth of Meadow Rain at the Pleasance Courtyard. Photo: Alex Brenner

Hannah Moss’ solo show is deceptive. It presents itself as a whimsical and sweet one-woman storytelling show about love, friendship and regret with a dash of audience participation, but it slowly reveals itself to be something more incisive about coercive and controlling relationships.

Meadow confides in the audience from the outset. She tells us about her best friend Miranda, and how inseparably close they are – or at least were. Things changed when she met Terry.

To begin with Moss deploys the tropes of the romantic comedy: the initial meet-cute in the pet shop and the magical romantic get-away to Paris. But underlying all this is a sense that something isn’t right. Terry seems intent on driving a wedge between Meadow and her best friend. He insists they move in together, though they haven’t been dating for long. He gets angry when he doesn’t know where she is or if she doesn’t answer her phone.

Anna Marshall’s production uses a familiarly twee fringe aesthetic to disarm the audience. Meadow sits on a little mound of grass. There are party hats and balloons. She invites audience members to look after her pet goldfish and persuades others to play characters in the story.

Moss’ writing is good at evoking the way in which some men manipulate women’s insecurities. Meadow is constantly apologising for herself, as if she were at fault.

The narrative beats feel like they could be clearer – there’s rather too much preamble – but Moss is an appealing and engaging performer who handles the play’s shift in tone with delicacy and skill.

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Deceptively charming solo show about a toxic and controlling relationship