Next month’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is shaping up to be a good place to catch some of the biggest names and most promising performers in disability arts.
The Misfit Analysis (23rd-31st August, Pleasance Below) is a mixed media solo show by performance poet, writer and actor Cian Binchy that invites audiences to explore the mind of a man with autism – and promises to somehow involve playful satire, wheelchairs and blow-up dolls.
Tourette’s awareness campaigner Jess Thom will also be there, performing her play Backstage in Biscuit Land (24th-30th August, Pleasance Two) – the title a reference to the way in which her condition causes her to tic the word ‘biscuit’ some 960 times per hour. Starting from the premise of Thom being neurologically incapable of sticking to a consistent script, audiences can expect a gleefully surreal mix of storytelling, comedy and puppetry.
Elsewhere, there’s Billy Through the Window (8th-30th August, Underbelly Cowgate) – a play by Bristol Old Vic writer-in-attachment Tabitha Mortiboy, which examines the close friendship between two teenage boys with learning difficulties, Billy and Joe, growing up together in a care home. When Billy comes down with an illness, Joe is determined not to be different – to grow up ‘normal – and persuades Billy to join him in running away to a secret hideout where there’s no medicine…
On perhaps a more controversial note, comedian Mel Moon’s show Sick Girl ( 8th – 30th August, Counting House Attic) looks set to give audiences plenty to chew on. Moon was originally due to perform at the festival as one half of a duo alongside Australian right-to-die advocate Philip Nitschke, before parting ways with him and developing a crowdfunding-supported solo show. Nominally a stand-up set, it sees Moon recount her decision to seek assistance from a euthanasia organisation, after being diagnosed with a permanent and potentially fatal disease following childbirth, before going on to explore if and where the line should be drawn when it comes to coping with pain and suffering.
Finally, there’ll be a chance to catch the latest show by stand-up comic Lee Ridley, AKA Lost Voice Guy (said voice lost as a result of his cerebral palsy) who performs his sets with vocal assistance from an iPad. Titled Disability for Dunces (7th-30th August, The Stand), the show largely consists of Ridley highlighting and answering a series of insensitive and absurd questions genuinely put to him by the members of the public on a regular basis – including such zingers as ‘Can you really not talk?’; ‘Are you just in it for the parking’; and ‘Are you as clever as Stephen Hawking?’
Main image: 'The Misfit Analysis', courtesy of Stuey Burnett