Devised by: Jess Thom &Jess Mabel-Jones
Reviewer: Gareth Davies
“Only ten-percent of people with Tourettes have tics with swear words,” Jess Thom explains near the start of her one/two-woman showBackstage in Biscuit Land. Her follow-up statement that she is one of them feels redundant as a gloriously sweary outburst has already confirmed this for us.
Thom, aka Touretteshero, has become something of the public voice of Tourettes in the UK in recent months. You may not recognise her face, but you may already know her by her verbal tics, most prevalent of which is ‘biscuit’, which she can say up to 16,000 times a day. (‘Aladdin’, ‘cat’, ‘hello’, and ‘motherfucker’ are expressed pretty frequently too.) This show, in which Thom is ably assisted by ‘Chopin’, her co-creator who helps to keep her (vaguely) on script, serves both to explain, but more importantly to demonstrate so clearly, what it is like to live with a neurological condition that can be as entertaining as it is disabling.
Thom’s invitation for us to laugh at anything she says that we may find funny is a welcome permission to not feel awkward about her condition, but her descriptions of the everyday physical difficulties she has to manage – experiencing periodic ‘tic fits’ that require her to have round-the-clock assistance to keep her safe – are truly eye-opening. That she presents her story with such good humour, energy and charisma is humbling, to say the least.
Because of Thom’s Tourettes, the show has an unavoidable anarchic quality that only enhances its power and charm – and if it’s hard to tell what’s tic and what’s script, it doesn’t matter one bit.
You’ll definitely laugh, you may cry, you’ll probably get a biscuit. What more could you possibly want from a Fringe show?
Runs until 16thAugust (not 11th)