Kirsty Mann is a woman of many answers to the question fired at her at the top of the show: “What do you do?” It is a dreaded enquiry to many, but even more so to Mann as her story unfolds of living two careers conducted in secrecy simultaneously, safeguarding the respect she has garnered in each.
Mann is a talented performer, utilising character portrayals of – in turn – her best friend, her boss, and her best friend’s flatmate, as well as a few others. It can sometimes blur as to which might be construct and which real in her tale – no real flaw, but a little confusing – and switches between acting out in the style of a one-woman humorous play at times, and the more familiar stand-up anecdote-telling delivery. The staged quality is felt again when she physically moves between the space occupied by her characters and herself during dialogues, with the writing having the rhythm of a play too in parts of story exposition. It’s fine, it’s smart, it’s funny, it’s clear as to her conflict – escalating exponentially as she desperately tries to safeguard each of her professions from the other’s circle, the cracks beginning to show in this Sisyphean task, crescendoing in a satisfying meeting of worlds.
A powerful moment of utter candid connection comes in Mann’s experience as an NHS doctor during the time of the Covid pandemic. It’s flooring. And direct to us all.
The message at the end is simple, that we’re all complex creatures that belie labelling. Perfect for a diverse Fringe month.
Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Below, 17:50, 3-27 August 2023 (except 15th)