M.E.H. opens with apologies. I wish this could stop. I wish women would have pride and confidence in their work. And breathe. Maybe it’s intentional… but it doesn’t sit well.
M.E.H. – mass epidemic criteria. The Outbound Project take on a non-linear production of the study of mental illness, specifically focusing on Dr Jean-Martin Charcot’s study on hysteria in women.
The production has different elements to keep the audience intrigued and involved. The first focuses on Dr Jean-Martin Charcot, his character and his motive.
Alongside this, his most famous patient Blanche Wittmann is brought to life with less caricature of illness and more humanity. It’s handled well, allowing an empathy to form with a woman used to provide demonstrations in lectures. The focus of the context to Dr Charcot’s studies – for good or bad.
More exhausting is the portrayal of the dancing plague of 1518. Realising the uncontrollable dancing which engulfed the streets of Strasbourg. A corner of the stage, a box is used to represent this. One actor, throughout the whole production, chaotically moving, mesmeric, exhausting.
This is a strong cast. Chloe Holliday’s monologue at the conclusion bringing motive and context together, encompassing all that has been fantastic about this production. The essentialness of the lives we have, to live in our own truth.
In M.E.H. The Outbound Project bring something much needed to the Edinburgh Fringe. Something almost pure in its chaos. This is about an exploration, a different perspective. It’s clever, frenetic, witty, self-conscious. And it leaves a feeling of fulfilment. It might not be tight enough yet but it is in this form which it should be seen. Because there is just something about watching how theatre is created, the range of techniques which can be used to keep an audience engaged.
M.E.H. is at the Underbelly Cowgate as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. You can see the production at 12.10 until Sunday 25th August.
Disclosure: This review is part of media accreditation for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. All views and opinions contained are my own.