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The Brilliance of Broken Glass – Underbelly George Square

This show ended up being a little too sentimental for my personal liking. Perhaps there have been so many stories at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe about people who have been through a lot of personal trauma that sitting through yet another one feels like déjà vu. In the end, however, that Brooke (just Brooke, apparently, like Cher or Madonna) had several surgeries, the details of which might well be classed by some as ‘too much information’, and is able to come to the Fringe and tell her story is a very good thing.

The Brilliance of Broken Glass Things are complicated, treatment-wise, at least partly because there was a misdiagnosis, and the waiting times were such that this otherwise very American story might as well have been set in Britain. Brooke’s story comes with video footage of past experiences and home videos of her as a child, which successfully break up what would otherwise have been quite an exhausting show, with the storytelling proceeding at considerable speed.

There’s a good mixture of poetry and prose. Some of the USA-specific references went over my head, whilst giving the narrative authenticity. While some spend thousands on therapy, there’s something endearing about Brooke having a toy dog for moral support: hey, if it works for her and it’s not harming anyone, why not? She also found some humour in a two-year long recovery period from extensive surgery: not being able to speak for very long could, she mused, be a unique selling point with regards to online dating.

As if to underline that this isn’t a ‘woe is me’ tale, she talks about a positive childhood, in which she became school president (in British English, head girl), and her opening interaction with the audience, asking us to identify something we had once lost – responses at the performance I attended included house keys and wallets – made me wonder if this was going to be a show about losing a loved one. It was the first of several plot twists that helped maintain interest in a story that covers a lot of ground from panicky Jewish mothers to life lessons from the Harry Potter series. An intriguing and heartfelt testimonial.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

With no map to recovery, just a trusty guide dog by her side and the embers of a torched life plan lighting her way, Brooke takes the audience on a punchy, poetic journey, navigating growth and loss. The Brilliance of Broken Glass asks, are you always what you were?

The Brilliance of Broken Glass
Performance Dates Wednesday 2nd – Monday 28th August, 13:20
Running Time 60 minutes
Location Underbelly (Wee Coo), George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LH

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