Help Yourself

Aug 8 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Sharp and witty

Summerhall (Venue 26): Wed 2 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Dynamic collaborators Jess Brodie and Victoria Bianchi play expert hosts in Help Yourself, from Musselburgh-based Emma Ruse Productions running at Summerhall’s demonstration room for the full Fringe.

In the age of social media influencers, endless self-help books and countless products that promise a quick fix, this production uses irony and satire to call out and expose organisations, brands and individuals who profit off of people’s unhappiness. It does so in a way that is incredibly funny and constantly engaging.

Victoria Bianchi and Jess Brodie in Help Yourself. Pic: Emma Ruse Productions

In this theatre-meets-seminar performance the two hosts, dressed in sharp and garishly coloured power suits, take you through five simple steps to help yourself and those around you and they provide you with the tools for a quick fix.

Sounds too good to be true right? That’s because it most certainly is. The scenarios they act out, the tiring exercise routines they encourage and the products they promote are unrealistic and not at all helpful.

If only it was that easy – a five-step process to help yourself and those around you. As a darker side comes through it highlights the difficulties of dealing with tragedy and needing real support. There are some incredibly poignant moments as the piece goes on, which make you reflect on how you truly can help yourself and support those around you.


Engagement with the audience cleverly shows how little money-hungry people truly listen – and how little they care. This is also shown through the pair’s shameless promotion of the Help Yourself brand, unique products and their in-your-face marketing, from stickers to helium balloons.

It is a testament to the quality of Brodie and Bianchi’s acting and script that it is sometimes difficult to decipher whether they are being sincere and what is part of the act. It is weirdly unsettling but even more intriguing.

This is a highly entertaining show was seen in its first iteration in the Pianodrome at Hidden Door Festival 2022. Now, as the debut for the newly formed Emma Ruse Productions, it deserves to take the next step onto a bigger stage with a bigger audience.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Summerhall (Demonstration Room), 1 Summerhall (Venue 26)
Wednesday 2 – Sunday 27 August 2023
Daily (not Mons 14, 21): 4pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Emma Ruse Productions links:

Instagram: @emmaruseprod
Twitter: @emmaruseprod



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