Reviewer: Richard Hall
Last month, comedian, writer and broadcaster, Juliette Burton sold out this enthralling docu-comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe for a fourth consecutive year.
As with her previous shows, Butterfly Effect, draws heavily on her own experiences, especially those linked to mental health. At one point in this highly entertaining, funny and deeply poignant show, Burton lists her mental health conditions which include Anxiety disorder, depression and OCD. She does so in the manner that a game show host might introduce a star prize and then to the surprise of everyone in the room quickly changes tack to candidly talk about being sectioned at the age of 17 for a severe eating disorder.
Her mental health conditions not only provide the content for the show but also provide Burton with a structure from which she relentlessly regales the audience with an array of stories and witty observations on the subject of kindness. At the heart of her quest to investigate the power of kindness which she once received from a complete stranger at a particular low point in her life, is a desperate attempt to find favour with her parents who disapprove of her life choices and career as a comedian. Burton chooses to represent their voices as her inner criticisms and self-doubts and she is at her funniest when talking about them.
Considering what Burton has gone through it is astonishing that she appears to be so comfortable performing on stage and talks with ease about the traumas she has faced in her life. Having had therapy for most of her adult life she feels herself strangely addicted to it even asking an ex-boyfriend to go to couple counselling just so she can get an extra fix. One of her funniest observations is when she describes therapists as having “voices that sound like telephone sex workers or Zippy from Rainbow”.
Ultimately Burton’s show is a triumphant valediction that in spite of her mental health issues she is determined to be happy and make something of her life. As she says repeatedly one small act of kindness can make a big difference. Throughout the show she screens clips of her in parks and at railway stations showering strangers with random acts of kindness; some are gratefully received, others less so. At the end of the show Burton challenges everyone present to carry out a random act of kindness and post these using thehashtag #DareToBeKind .
Burton is a wonderfully engaging performer who does not shy away from using comedy to tackle subjects that are rarely spoken about in public. Although they are the butt of most of her jokes I very much hope that one day Burton’s parents will see her perform on stage and give her the approval she so desperately craves and richly deserves.
Reviewed on 14 September 2018 | Image: Contributed