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Eme Essien: Flat Shoes in the Club – Underbelly Bristo Square

There are Fringe shows that start so quickly that it becomes incumbent on them to maintain their brisk pace, or risk becoming reviewed as something that comes across as running out of steam towards the end. Some of these shows would do well to consider Eme Essien’s approach in her show, which starts off with an entirely dialogue-free moment, allowing the audience to take in the set and what her character is doing – in this case, considering what outfits she should wear for a night out.

Eme EssienFiled under ‘comedy’ in the Fringe brochure, it’s a character comedy play, which raises the question as to whether it should really be in the ‘theatre’ section instead. I assume it isn’t possible, for whatever reason, to have it in both. Anyway, there’s an indecisiveness to her choice of clothes that I suspect is familiar to a lot of women as much as it is frustrating for a lot of men. And then there’s a lengthy telephone conversation with a man she met one evening recently. Immediately kicking herself for giving some bloke her actual number, the young lady soon discovers that this man, who goes by Darnell (at least to her), simply won’t take no for an answer.

Despite being rightly put off by him on a number of fronts (there are already at least two other women in his life as it is, for instance) he still manages to sow seeds of doubt, and Eme (I’m calling her Eme for the sake of argument) wonders if he has a point: are her standards too high? Is she waiting for the ‘perfect’ man to come along, that is, someone who doesn’t exist? Further pressures come in the form of traditionalist family members – in a Skype call, an aunt pops the champagne when she discovers Eme works for a law firm, but working for a law firm doesn’t mean she’s a barrister, and there’s the inevitable instruction to settle down and get married.

It’s good to be able to hear both sides of a conversation, even if there’s extra effort involved in trying to align Eme’s lines spoken live with a recorded voiceover. There are some pulsating beats that reflect Eme’s growing excitement at her night out painting the town red, though occasionally the music overpowers the dialogue slightly. Overall, though, there’s much food for thought in this compelling production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Is your weave a bit of a mess today? Primarni jeans too tight? Your heels destroyed? Don’t stress, embrace it! Of course, there will be that time to make your mark in life… be the change that you want… leave a legacy and all that. But tonight, let’s celebrate mediocrity! get them pre-drinks in, we are turning up! Screw it, I’m gonna wear my flats tonight!

Listing information:
Show: “Flat shoes in the Club?”
Dates: 2nd – 28th August (not 16th)
Time: 15:45 pm
Venue: Underbelly – Bristo Square
Address: Teviot Place, EH8 9AG

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