Review: Sugar (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Mabel Thomas writes and stars in Sugar, a tough and uncompromising look at ambitious child turned sugar baby.

A young woman addresses us directly. She’s just initiated a car accident, and someone is dead. We know this from the start, so it is no spoiler. Mae has had an enterpreneurial streak since early schoolhood, and a competitive one, too.

The seeds are there from the start, the ambition to make money, exploit others, make impulsive decisions, and take revenge. All are important as the story unfolds.

From a bedroom decked out with glitter, fairy lights and artwork, Mae takes us back to her days as a game champion, a seller of romantic trinkets, and a first crush on a girl.

Sugar starts off as light entertainment, regardless of the accident we know we are building to. Mae may be a sneak and a plotter, but she is rarely malicious. Her behaviour might have consequences, but they are not always what she intended.

The last third of Sugar‘s plot arc focuses on Mae’s decision to seek easy money by finding a sugar daddy. She has a plan, but in a strong, cautionary tale, it all comes crashing down.

Sugar, in its final moments, has an interesting resolution, which takes the viewer from a point which may trigger and upset into a blackly comic ending.

It takes great skill on the part of writer, performer and director to manage a story like this, which has considerable shifts in tone and several scenes which can distress the viewers.

Thomas and co-director Ciara Crolly navigate this tricky balance very well, making an initially antagonistic character into one we want to protect by the end.

Fringe rating: ****

You can stream Sugar in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Online@TheSpace plarform until 30 August: book your ticket here.