Fringe Review: Initial Consult

Initial consult image

By Samantha Field

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Trigger warning: The show includes discussions about eating disorder behaviours

One of the joys of the Fringe is seeing artists truly testing out their creativity and giving audiences the types of shows that they wouldn’t see anywhere else. In the case of Initial Consult audiences get to experience a bit of everything as they take a journey with their new patient Charlotte, who is someone that anyone who has lived with mental illness themselves would immediately recognise.

Charlotte welcomes herself into the ‘therapist’s office’, placing the audience in the unique position as playing her therapist. While absolutely adamant that she does not need to be there, the very defensive and funny Charlotte begins to slowly open up about her struggles with her eating disorder and perfectionism, all while putting on entertaining musical numbers. Then, in true therapy session form, just as Charlotte becomes comfortable with sharing – the session ends and she needs to quickly wrap things up.

As much as Charlotte plays a very eccentric character, this show still highlights many of the struggles someone with an eating disorder goes through and works to dissolve many of the false stereotypes.  Through the use of her musical numbers and ramblings, she sheds light on how eating disorders usually stem from feelings of inferiority, and not superiority as usually assumed, and how they are more complex than simply ‘not eating enough’. The natural character that Charlotte portrays is also someone that people will feel very connected and sympathetic with, as she slowly comes to terms with her own illness and offers up some very raw and honest glimpses into her own experience.

The unique set-up of a pseudo-therapy session is a perfect way to give insight into living with a mental health condition while still creating an entertaining show. The transitions and timing for the musical numbers all feel natural and Charlotte is incredibly skilled in keyboard playing, singing, tap dancing, and even rap. The only downfall of the production was that the lighting setup often left Charlotte in the dark as she moves about the stage, but this is an easy fix by shifting the lights’ positioning.

Charlotte’s show is exactly what the Fringe is all about. It’s entertaining, funny, a great display of skill, and a good insight into being human.

4.5 Stars

To book this show go here.

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