Review: Open (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Currently streaming until 22 August on the Fringe Player at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Crystal Stillman’s play is full of magic and mystery.

Performed by Megan Hill, “first love, commitment, and sacrifice” are the areas of life juggled in this story of Kristen,the amateur magician and aspiring writer, and the relationship she crafts with first love Jenny, with those who impact on them.

Filmed before an audience, this 65 minute show includes them in the creation of tricks, then stop them dead with a question, an observation, a reflection. In a set lit with a rainbow river of light, which opens up as needed, Hill and director Jessi D Hill craft a character who sparkles in her onstage presence and bubbles with joy at the first flush of romance.

There is an unexpected tragic arc to Open which I didn’t necessarily expect, the need to believe, to love, to clap like audiences do to bring Tinkerbell the fairy back to life in Peter Pan. Kristen’s frustration and anger bursts out against injustice, but softens against the humour and awkwardness of early dates.

Promotional image for Open

Megan Hill has a strong physical presence and a flair for both comedy and vulnerability – her Magician is magnetic, creating tricks from the invisible air and holding them close to her heart. However, the sound is at times muffled and varies in its level, which reduces the impact of what we are seeing a little.

I enjoyed Open and admired its humour, its bravery, and its honesty, and as an addition to the LGBT+ dramatic space, this is welcome into the room. As a female-led collaboration, it shows the synergy between writer, performer and director.

Fringe review: ****

Open can be viewed at the Edinburgh Fringe until 22 August – book your ticket here. To read more about Megan Hill, go to her website.

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