Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Below
Freddie Hayes is Charlotte, a potato, fresh out of drama school and down on her luck. She dreams of the high life: fame and fortune. One day she is approached by Maurice Piper, who makes it very clear that he is the devil. He offers her such fame and fortune, but at a price. Wait a minute, isn’t this Doctor Faustus? “It’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus” says Charlotte, but this time, it’s potatoes.
Potatohead is told chiefly through Hayes dressed as Charlotte the potato, along with songs and sketches and her puppet friends. She is an incredibly electric performer who has chosen to make life difficult for herself, like an OuLiPo of the stage. She has not only decided to tell the story of Faustus through potatoes but has created for herself the most obtuse puppets (such as a handful of chips) almost in a battle against conveyable meaning, in a quest towards silliness.
We completely get it. She is the most perfect clown and a fantastic storyteller. The skill is in being able to take this classic tale and retell it in the silliest way possible, and I highly doubt anyone could top this. No theatre could ever be so far away from Faustus in tone and style and still be so instantly recognisable.
There is never a dull moment and no way of knowing what Hayes is going to do next. We’re given some gentle audience participation, some karaoke and pre-recorded content, reminiscent of silly performance art, which all blend together in a wonderful crispy cabaret fantastically woven together and directed by Sh!t Theatre. It’s incredibly daft fun and something that the Edinburgh Fringe is lacking this year.
It’s rare to have such a strong debut with a genre and media-bending show. Hayes is a skilful manipulator of all arts who reminds us that theatre should be fun.
Written by: Freddie Hayes
Directed by: Sh!t Theatre
Freddie Hayes: Potatohead plays at EdFringe 2022 until 29 August. Further information and bookings here.