Review: Color Inside the Lines (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Streaming on the Online@theSpace platform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jenny Stafford’s Color Inside the Lines is a wry and warm musical memoir about growing up and finding love. When a drag queen reads her palm (“I didn’t ask her to, she just did it”), and tells her she’ll never find love, 21-year old Jenny explores life “in the middle” and high school and the kind of guys she interacted with.

This is the second Flying Solo Presents! show I’m seeing at this year’s fringe, and I can see why it was so popular at the Denver Fringe where it was filmed. Not just clever, observational comedy, but also an inspirational piece which songs which push forward the narrative. This is a digital stream, but filmed before an audience – the right decision as this needs the reaction and interaction.

Penny Cole directs this tale of Jenny’s life and whether it is best to “color inside the lines” in life. Peer pressure and a need to conform might pre-dominate over making the right decision – but a tragedy we may not see coming means the final third of Color Inside the Lines takes a different tack and underlines that you can still have surprises in your thirties and although your life circles may be small and your friendship groups fixed, you can let others in.

Promotional image for Color Inside the Lines

Despite some sound issues with this broadcast (there is some background noise which persists throughout; less noticable if you wear headphones), this is a strong piece which comes across well in digital format. Music director and guitarist Mark Castellano’s accompaniment complements Stafford’s chatty and disparaging style: nothing too showy or flashy, just giving support to the story.

Color Inside the Lines is a valuable one-woman musical which leaves you guessing where the story is going, and recognising how the hierarchies we navigate through life have a knack of influencing the choices we make.

Fringe rating: ****

You can stream Color Inside the Lines on the Fringe Player at Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 30 August: buy your tickets here.