Breathless review – clothing hoarder starts dating minimalist | Edinburgh Festival 2022

Sophie looks at her clothes and says she sees them as “versions of me”. Unsure of her identity, she can cover all the bases by filling her wardrobe with options. The more anxious she becomes, the more solace she finds in shopping, buying new looks to become a new person.

She’s careful with her money, goes to charity shops and clearance sales, and has an eye for tasteful design, but that doesn’t mean she’s in control of her habit. When she loads her bags, she never needs to use the changing rooms; whether the clothes fit is not really the point.

Perhaps it could remain a guilty secret, except that all of these possible versions of Sophie are starting to become a problem as she downsizes – and downsizes again. She moved first from her London apartment to her parents’ house in Plymouth, then back to a small apartment of her own. Overstuffing tells her she crossed the threshold from fashion enthusiast to hoarder, just as hoarding itself crossed the threshold into mental illness when she was reclassified by the World Health Organization. in 2018.

The extent to which this is a problem is highlighted in this solo exhibition by playwright Laura Horton when Sophie begins dating Jo, the first time she had the courage to date a woman after years of relationships with men. She notes in horror that Jo’s house contains little more than three pairs of shoes and an old school tie, a level of minimalism that she fears will tear them apart.

One-man plays about overcoming adversity are commonplace on the fringe. This year, you’ll find shows about cancer, dementia and crash a bike – but actress Madeleine MacMahon engages in the role of Sophie in a spectacle that is as captivating as it is sensitive. She plays her as a woman more dented than strengthened by experience, an air of childlike wonder undermined by her endless excuses and lack of confidence. When she plays Jo, her voice drops an octave, highlighting Sophie’s vulnerability as she walks the slow road to recovery.


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