The intriguing and hilarious Lilith: The Jungle Girl places the audience in the middle of 1861 Holland, a centre of scientific progress, where we meet brain surgeon Charles Penworth (Candy Bowers). Aided by his lovestruck assistant Helen Travers (Genevieve Giuffre), the pair embody a fantastic caricature of the 19th century doctor, lobotomising all who cross their path – until they meet Lilith (Ash Flanders). Sent from Borneo where she was found among a pride of lions, Lilith appears to have no language or societal skills. Penworth and Travers set themselves the challenge of transforming Lilith into a “lady” to “set her free” in Dutch society but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds.
Lilith is a stunning blend of clever writing and talented execution. It’s comedy is perfectly timed, with both Bowers and Giuffre delivering as two hilariously convincing old fashioned characters while simultaneously poking fun at 19th century medicine and attitudes. Their endless talents create a light hearted atmosphere while covering a multitude of modern topics.
However, beneath the laughter are themes of gender, animal welfare, love and most prominently, the definition of freedom. The cast explore each of these in a small space of time with a beautiful narrative that’ll have you both laughing and crying with each character.
Flanders’ talents as a creator and performer are captivating. The character of Lilith is well developed and so convincing you’ll find yourself full of sympathy for her as she struggles with identity and inclusion. Lilith: The Jungle Girl is surprising, captivating and heartwarming – you won’t see anything else like it in Edinburgh this Fringe.
Words: Nastassia Sutherland
Lilith: The Jungle Girl, Traverse, Aug 4-27 (not 7, 14, 21), times vary