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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 – Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle review

A surreal, hilarious and moving tribute to motherhood.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 - Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle review
Beth Vyse as Olive Hands

Beth Vyse’s show explores the plight of Olive Hands, a daytime TV presenter returning to work after having a baby.

Desperate to cling on to her acclaimed ‘your number two in the morning’ status as the second most popular daytime TV presenter in the UK, she even brings baby Henry along for the ride. Factor in a warm-up act from Paddy McGuinness (also played by the comic), the come-back soon begins to unravel when he fails to deliver the guests to the studio.

It is all completely absurd and ridiculous, there are props flying around and even a male handmaid (also in head-to-toe leopard print like Olive Hands and her baby). There’s a full schedule to get through in the show’s programming, which we are taken through with fantastic audio visual creative elements and even adverts in-between (shot as black and white films) for ‘cheap white wine’. There is lots of fertile ground for audience participation, which builds throughout.

The explosion of chaos, giant phones, phone-ins and a mother-and-baby rave featuring a dance anthem sampling Letitia Dean vocals takes us on a deliberate and cleverly structured journey. We become immersed in the juggling demands of being a new mother. We see external pressures and expectations delivered in the form of live feedback with a social media feed from viewers. There is also a live barometer of audience statistics to add to the pressure on Olive to re-establish her career. She desperately and hilariously tries everything to raise the barometer’s dial above the Wright Stuff and Loose Women.

We are swept along thanks to the warmth, hilarity and authenticity of Beth Vyse as a performer and the connection she has with us. This is a family affair, as not only does her baby Henry take centre stage but Beth’s partner also does the tech. The result is an unique alchemy, creating emotionally arresting moments in the room that can turn laughter into tears. Olive, in her heightened reality, just wants the best for her baby and is trying her hardest. It is an honest depiction of the impact motherhood, shifting priorities and reinvention. It is also a celebration of imperfection and provides a reminder that the driving force behind any conventional or unconventional family unit is love.

Title: Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Venue: Monkey Barrel 2 Dates: 2nd – 26th August 2018 (not 14th or 15th) Time: 8pm Duration: 1 hour Tickets:


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