“Stay in your shell and shut up,” people say. Or “Where’s the chicken?”
By SALLY STOTT Published: Saturday 12 August 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Bourbon Bar
“Stay in your shell and shut up,” people say. Or “Where’s the chicken?” She’s an egg, standing on stage underneath the green yellow club lighting of the Bourbon Bar’s womb-like arches. A mysterious, disembodied voice speaks: “The egg is the symbolic of creation; the vessel great work is consummated in.” Normally the punchline of jokes, here the egg reclaims its image: as the giver of life and a symbol of womanhood – but is funny in the way anyone who “hatches” out of a shell, and runs, chicken-like, around the room can’t really not be. Through the story of a “rebirth”, this curious creature tries to achieve her “potential” in a world where people like her “aren’t given a seat at the table – but they are allowed to clear that table”.
Creator Theodora van der Beek is a brilliantly understated comic writer and performer who draws on the work of Andy Warhol and Lady Gaga, as well as the punk spirit of Deborah Harry and the Sex Pistols to create a highly original stripped-back sci-fi comic-tragedy, delivered with the dry, self-knowing narration of a piece of pulp fiction. Tim Spooner’s outlandish but ethereal costume enables our aspiring heroine to waddle, clown-like and wide-eyed in a plastic membrane that renders her simultaneously sad and surreally funny. “You stupid whore,” says the robotic voice of her god-like shell, as she embraces the idea that her value can only be measured by the volume of men’s whistles when she eats a banana.
Ultimately she fails to become the woman she was meant to be. However, lying dying in her own egg white, she finally sees the limitations others have placed on her: “Inside the chicken, I crossed a road.” Rarely has an egg joke been used to create such a melancholic, joyful and profound conclusion to a truly original play.
'Theodora van der Beek’s one-woman show is delightful and disorientating, a tale of one Yolk’s journey through the big bad world... It’s a dizzying chain of events, played out with obvious joy, humour and many bad puns from van der Beek, but it’s the yolk’s soul searching that forms the centre of this play. There are analyses of worldwide egg symbolism, the relation of the egg to mothers, to the Big Bang, to whether the chicken came first, to the egg’s individual potential and worth. The Yolk prays to the shell, a bigoted, critical but protective God that undermines her and forces her on into further self-discovery. There’s some greatly put moments in these, especially relating an egg’s potential to feminist theories of human value...
Egg is a show with some lovely moments, with a real joy to its execution, and it can laugh at itself without diminishing its intelligent points. The performance could use a little more polish all over but it is a cracking (groan) concept that could hatch into something wonderful.'
Oscar Balfour - Play To See
The Fringe is known for showcasing avant-garde, boundary-defying work, but this piece of performance art about an egg’s journey is utterly bizarre, even by Fringe standards. Theodora Van der Beek hatches before our eyes, encased in a plastic membrane, and waddles innocently around. But, as she embarks upon different endeavours, a disembodied voice tells her that she’s just a “stupid whore”. This is biting satire, as egg becomes a poignant symbol for all the women who fail to reach their potential under the patriarchy. Although this piece of performance art feels more like a work in progress, and is perhaps an acquired taste, have you really done the Fringe if you haven’t seen an anthropomorphised egg on stage?
'Your show was beyond inspiring. I myself would like to focus on feminism and gender politics and struggled in finding a performance to write about or be interested in. I thought your concept was original and refreshing and a wake up call that there are in fact artists out there who are not boring and dull. Thank you!'
Funki Porcini, musician and film maker
'I never knew I could be emotionally invested in an egg.'
'I like the combination of tragic and comic, absurd and deep'
'a really great idea, love the symbol of the egg - universal and funny, though some bits made me feel sad'
'great scenography and usage of props'
'it is quite unique'
'brilliant, funny and emotional! Everything worked and the egg's voice is amazing'
'excellent from start to finish. Clear message, touches of humour and strong emotion'
'lovely moments of innocence and sweetness'
'I love the writing. Very funny and it definitely got me captivated'
'eerie and simple in a strong and positive way'
'I love the idea it's such a nice way to focus on a very real issue'
'enjoyed it thoroughly, the humour, the surrealness, the atmosphere was really strong and thought through'
'good use of a variety of techniques to express ideas'