Aug 23 2021 | By More

★★★★☆    Clever

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33): Tue 17– Sun 29 Aug 2021
Review by Hugh Simpson

SKANK at the Pleasance Courtyard is a thoroughly successful and engaging one-woman show that is smart, funny and unexpectedly touching.

Written and performed by Edinburgh University graduate Clementine Bogg-Hargroves, SKANK tells of Kate, an under-employed graduate who struggles with heath scares, one-night stands and the problems of recycling a can of baked beans.

Clementine Bogg-Hargroves in SKANK. Pic Shay Rowan

Many previous mentions of SKANK seem to centre on a resemblance to Fleabag. This may be largely due to a perceived similarity between the creators’ names (something Bogg-Hargroves has no control over) and the shows’ titles (something she presumably did control).

Such comparisons with a crossover hit do this production few favours, as it very much has its own identity. The title (more for its associations rather than some confusion as to whether it should appear solely in upper case) may also put some off, as might the way the Fringe website declares this to be stand-up as well as theatre.

While undoubtedly very funny, this is a much more subtle show than you might expect. It is clearly a carefully thought out, well constructed and wonderfully performed piece of theatre. Indeed, the more ‘serious’ parts – explorations of mental and physical health, implicit critiques of sexism and modern working practices – are the most successful.

intelligently staged

Bogg-Hargroves is an exceptional performer and is at home both in addressing the audience directly and at interacting with other unseen figures. These other characters are largely supplied by recordings of her voice. This could easily prove awkward but is handled with ease, as well as providing further proof of Bogg-Hargroves’s versatility.

Clementine Bogg-Hargroves in SKANK. Pic Shay Rowan

Along with co-director/dramaturg Zoey Barnes, Bogg-Hargroves has fashioned an intelligently staged piece that overcomes the problems that affect so many one-handers, as well as making effective use of just the right amount of props.

This is also a notable production on a technical level. The main venue at the Pleasance this year is actually a tent at the back of the Courtyard. It is an outside-inside venue that might be handy for distancing but is unforgiving for performance. Yet the sound from George Roberts adds greatly to the depiction of Kate’s mental state.

While SKANK could probably lose around five minutes of the more broadly comedic moments, there is so much about this that works that it is very likely to go on to greater success, in whatever form Bogg-Hargroves chooses. Definitely worth seeing, not least so that, in a couple of years, you can say you saw ‘her off the television’ in a draughty tent.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Pleasance Courtyard, (rear courtyard), 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ (Venue 33)
Tuesday 17 – Sunday 29 August 2021 (not Mon 23)
Daily at 4.45 pm (Fri 27 also 8.45 pm. Sat 28 also 6.45 pm)

Information and tickets at
Facebook: @sk4nktheplay
Instagram: @skank_the_play
Twitter: @skanktheplay


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