Box Theatre Company was founded in 2016 with the aim of celebrating emerging young voices in the industry, while focusing on the weird and the wonderful. The Edinburgh Fringe is full of the weird and wonderful so the question is, does Camp Be Yourself stand out? In several ways, this new play by performers Emilia Stawicki and Betty Jane Walsh adheres to central ideals of absurdist theatre.
Ironically, Emily and Betsy reunite as hosts at the eponymous activity camp they met in as children. It aims to encourage self-expression and a sense of self but neither of them appears to have benefited from the experience. Betsy smarts at a failed acting career for which she seems wholly emotionally ill-equipped and Emily stifles her feelings of inadequacy by overcompensating.
Addressing the fourth wall directly as if the audience are their junior charges serves a purpose, but it rapidly becomes a cliched device for knowing asides and pulling faces for laughs. Otherwise, its the physicality of this piece that’s most satisfying. Stawicki and Walsh convey the characters’ emotional awkwardness clearly with their bodies and there are moments of sheer frenzy that are both hilariously funny and slightly unnerving.