Review: Ember (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Presented by Mad Hatter Films from Australia, and fresh from the Melbourne Fringe, Ember is written and performed by Isabella Perversi as a direct monologue to camera in various locations. The character we see is a young woman, Fleur, slightly awkward, certainly anxious.

We only see and hear what she wants us to; often making Ember a bewlildering watch. It is a psychological mystery in which Fleur takes us on a journey, as well as a black comedy on fear and loss. Written during Melbourne’s COVID lockdown, it is very insular and filled with the thoughts we could all give way to in suspended isolation.

Ember is also about reflecting on what is normal, with clothes, cosmetics, and trips to Bali all coming into the mix. In one scene, Fleur looks into a mirror and her reflection almost mocks the life she had become used to; in another, she retreats into her private space and cocoons herself in her thoughts.

Promotional image for Ember

It becomes clear that Fleur is at a crossroads in her life: without a job, in a relationship which fails to satisfy, on poor terms with her mother, feeling a little at sea with friends. She is living in a bubble where she no longer recognises herself, but what decision will she make in the end?

Ember has plenty of bite, and will leave you thinking about what Fleur’s destiny will be. Director Emma Gough has found enough locations to allow us to imagine Fleur’s day-to-day existence, although those around her are little more than cyphers. The power is in Perversi’s monologue, and what it tells us about Fleur’s state of mind.

Fringe rating: ***

You can stream Ember on the Assembly Showcaster platform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until the end of August: book your ticket here.