EFR - Reviews of Evie and the Perfect Cupcake

Evie and the Perfect Cupcake

Sat 3rd – Wed 14th August 2013

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 10:04 on 10th Aug 2013

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A misleading name is a dangerous thing. It’s a shame because, tucked away in the warren-like back passages of 'The Banshee Labyrinth', the audience of Tina Sederholm’s one person play is undeservedly small. Perhaps, like me, festival-goes were scared off by what sounds like a storytelling session for pink-loving, Disney-idolising little girls. In fact, the reverse is true. In her one-woman, multiple character, 40 minute show (ignore the website that claims 'Evie and the Perfect Cupcake' will take up an hour of your precious time), we are taken on a thought-provoking satirical romp through the widely acknowledged but little discussed horrors of a society obsessed with aesthetic bodies.

In the first three minutes or so, as Tina Sederholm floated around the tiny, cave-like setting of festival venue 156, greeting us with a cheery wave and nothing less than a box of cupcakes, I’ll admit to being a little doubtful about what was to follow. And when a jaunty background jingle burst in, a breathless giggle, and a bright, unrelenting “once upon a time…”, my heart sank even further than the basement levels of an underground pub. But gradually it dawned on me that this sugary façade was all part of the show, a demonstration by a talented and highly intelligent actor of the realities of the gendered stereotypes of girly 'perfection' which are dissected in her show.

Nor is the story that we hear just a modern-day fairy tale of one woman’s success story to overcome the pressures of society. Tina Sederholm tackles eating disorders and depression head-on without ever mentioning the words “anorexia”. The Orwellian State of the ‘Calorie Galaxy’ where Evie lives chants incessantly unsubtle mantras – “you’re a winner if you’re thinner” is a particular favourite – yet behind these glaring ironies lies a compelling message.

But the reason 'Evie and the Perfect Cupcake' deserves acclaim is that the show is conveyed in humorous, engaging monologue that flits easily not only between easily distinctive characters (the show would do perfectly for radio), but also from prose to poetry and back again. Couplets so witty, so precise and so terrifically, horrifically rhyming, come shooting across with charming regularity to keep an already-engaged audience on their toes. I was listening so hard I struggled to write down any of these two-liners, but one stuck in my mind which sums up the theme of the show in a nutshell.

The danger, that is, of a serial cake-eater’s hunger for an unattainable success: “you’re starving for something much larger than cake / and stuffing the gap with car-bo-hy-drate”. Just like the show as a whole, it makes you laugh, and then it makes you think.

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Millie Morris

at 11:10 on 10th Aug 2013

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For somebody who finds it difficult to concentrate on listening for long periods of time without some sort of visual hook, suffice to say I was concerned about paying attention to Tina Sederholm’s one-woman hour-long monologue, which, from the title, sounded like a children’s play. Five minutes in, I realise my worries were obsolete: this free show is completely spellbinding.

With all the sass and snap of a slam poet, Sederholm oozes charisma as she tells the story of Evie, an inhabitant of the Calorie Galaxy who is pressured by an Orwell-esque society and her own sister to lose weight. Evie’s simultaneous desire to enjoy food and be of a socially acceptable body size proves more than a little testing, and she finds herself under the scrutiny of peers and the patriarchy. It is only Evie’s headstrong globe-trotting Aunt Gloria who can provide the antidote to this poisonous environment. This Sederholm illustrates with poetic lyricism, bringing to light the cruel injustices bound up in body image.

The show is a bleak exposé of how today’s culture is saturated with superficiality; Evie’s journey is fable-like, warning of the vacuous hole the shallow-minded fall into. The delivery is exactly as it needs to be: satirical, gripping, larger-than-life, and exuding all the morals Sederholm preaches within Evie’s tale. Not once does my gaze falter from her wild gesticulations and engaging stage presence, and sound effects and the occasional voiceover are slick additions to the story. The sickly sweet mantra of Evie’s sister’s how-to-be-thin book echoes throughout the play – ‘I’m a winner if I’m thinner’ - once more calling into question the absurdity of our weight-obsessed environment and providing the tonic that I have been craving for so long to our toxic image-obsession.

This is a genuinely moving piece which is fresh and relevant regarding expectations cast upon women and the oppression of beauty which ‘interrogates every pore’, and will appeal to those who are as disillusioned as Fitzgerald – myself included. Upon exit I purchased Sederholm’s CD recording of the story as I will be imploring my friends and family to listen at home. Should you be lucky enough to frequent the Fringe this summer, make sure you pop along to see this truly captivating performance.

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