The great thing about the Fringe is finding yourself watching plays you hadn’t actually planned to see. It’s even greater when said play turns out to be a hidden little treasure. So, when at 4.45 you’re chatting to two strangers at a press event, and less than an hour later watching them on stage, well, what could possibly go wrong. When they say word of mouth is the way to get bums on seats at the Fringe, this is exactly what they mean.
Joni and Scarlett (Ericka Roe and Ali Hardiman) are from completely different sides of the city. Scarlett is posh, Joni is, well, let’s say a little rough round the edges. The pair have absolutely nothing in common. Nothing that is except that they are both at Electric Festival, although Scarlett is glamping it up in her tipi, Joni squeezed in a tent with all her mates and the booze and drugs. Oh, and the other thing they have in common is a desperate need to pee, a really really overpowering need. It’s this need that brings them together in the most unexpected way.
The two header is masterfully handled. With the pair standing side by side, and yet already divisible by their look, their clothes, their hair, their accents, they launch into their separate stories. Scarlett really doesn’t want to be there, with all that mud. Joni is desperate to get high or drunk, or both. Each takes turns to build their own story, the other playing the various additional parts required to add that extra depth. Until their stories converge in the packed toilets, and the two threads suddenly become one as the pair make a unlikely connection.
There is a lovely charm to Electric. Maybe it’s their Irish accents. Maybe it’s their incessant happiness. (Maybe it’s their charm in the press event earlier.) But whatever it is it’s rather infectious. When they break into karaoke and encourage the audience to wave their hands in the air, you really can’t refuse. As the pair explore each other’s worlds and the prejudices that entails, you feel for them in their different ways. When Jodi’s friends sneer at Scarlett’s posh words, you dislike the friends for their pettiness. When Jodi is lured in by Scarlett’s friends in an attempt to extract revenge, you despise them for their inability to accept someone simply because she isn’t rich or well spoken, simply “not one of them”. And yet it’s a prejudice so many of us are likely guilty off, this is a mirror up to our own faces. And it is this that makes Electric so relatable.
Electric is an hour of theatre that is full of laughs and surprises. It’s a show that could be so easily missed, hidden away (like so many) in a small upstairs space at Underbelly. But it’s a play that is worth hunting out if you are near.
Written by: Ali Hardiman
Directed by: Clare Maguire
Produced by: ILA Productions
Booking link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/electric
Playing until: 25 August 2019