My Name Is Sue @ Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

performed by
Dafydd James

created by
Dafydd James and Ben LewisIts difficult to know how to categorise My Name is Sue. Part drag-act, part chamber musical, part bitter-sweet one (wo)man show about a lonely and possibly disturbed individual. Its also quite brilliant in a strange, low-key way.

Sue is played by Dafydd James in a lampshade-shaped wig and a frumpy wool skirt. She sits at her piano and sings songs about her life while occasionally knocking back pills and slurping a drink through a straw.

Her songs tell the story of her life in Cardiff, they tell of a cosy family existence that slowly fell apart. She was then expelled from her Finishing School and something unfortunate happens to her stepmother while she was on holiday in the US. Bad things appear to happen to Sue quite a lot.
A couple of songs in and she is joined on stage by a trio of backing musicians, all called Sue, who also all share her Winona-Ryder-in-Beetlejuice haircut and taste in beige M&S cardies. They stare out at the audience silently and unnervingly as the play their instruments and idly thumb through magazines when not required.

The lyrics, by James and Ben Lewis, are an intriguing mix of the banal and the sinister; Sues recollections of things seen from the window of a city bus blend with talk of angels and apocalypse. She devotes one song to Julia Roberts in Sleeping With The Enemy and, later, a sincere Radiohead cover version is transformed (sort of) into a tender lullaby. Theres even some audience interaction, though with a particularly macabre twist.

The show becomes darker and darker as the hour ticks past. The songs become ever bleaker and in the last number a deep voice bursts from somewhere within Sue like a demon, or possibly some other facet of a fractured personality.

While always looking like a man in an unfortunate wig, James invests Sue with a gentle softly spoken manner that is both endearing and unsettling.

This unusual show, while at times not quite adding up to the sum of its parts, has a cult-ish glimmer and is in may ways the perfect Edinburgh experience: entertaining, off-beat, strange and memorable.

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