Be warned: when you first enter the Main Hall at Summerhall, it might seem like they’ve forgotten to set the stage. When the audience enters the hall to watch Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl, they venture quite literally into the unknown.
However, the informality is nothing but welcoming for when we take our seats we are offered a cup of tea or coffee, along with biscuits and a Bingo card, which will come into play later in the performance. This warm and comforting welcome allows the audience to let their guard fall and we soon realise we have joined an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Our protagonist introduces herself: ‘Hello, I’m Jess, and I’m an alcoholic’.
Soon after, writer and performer Jess Love decides that she will break protocol and tell us her story. She explains that she comes from a family of teachers and missionaries, but that she has always felt like an outsider, not following in these footsteps and experimenting with drugs and alcohol from a young age.
At times educational, this performance explores and explains genetic factors as Jess attempts to belong and get better. She finds that her great grandmother was a renowned ‘notorious strumpet’ and ‘dangerous girl’, and wonders if she has followed in her footsteps instead.
By far the most beautiful aspect of this show is the absolute vulnerability Love displays. Moments feature striking circus routines tap into her defencelessness and the physical pain she puts herself through while creating these visuals mimics the pain of her past ghosts. Although the show is not always the most polished, it makes up for any lack of refinement in sheer power and in the strength of the message it conveys.
Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl, Summerhall, until 26 Aug, 9.55pm