You Fancy Yourself (4 stars)

This article is from 2009.

You Fancy Yourself

Evocative immigrant experience

It’s amazing what one woman armed with just two costumes and a wooden trunk can do. During the course of just over an hour Maja Ardal very convincingly recreates Edinburgh of the 1950s through the voices of 11 distinct characters. The central one is a young Icelandic immigrant girl, Elsa, who arrives in the Scottish capital with her working class parents and is packed off to a school in Bruntsfield. Having lost no time in becoming best pals with a wee lassie who lives in a flat at the top of her tenement block stair, Elsa finds integration into school life a lot more tricky thanks to her accent and the unwanted attention of bullying classmates.

Aside from being an evocative portrait of youth in another age, You Fancy Yourself (the phrase the bullies use to justify their treatment of Elsa) neatly addresses the issues of immigration and assimilation through the tension Elsa experiences between holding on to her Icelandic character and becoming Scottish. Loosely based on Ardal’s own childhood (she came to Edinburgh from Iceland and now resides in Canada), the show about a homecoming is charming and funny and it feels very authentic.

St George’s West, 0844 477 1000, until 30 Aug, 4.45pm, £10–£11 (£8–£9).

You Fancy Yourself

  • 4 stars

Using her Icelandic imagination and the Glencoe Massacre as guides, young Elsa struggles to fit into 1950s Edinburgh.This one-woman show with 11 characters 'transforms harsh schoolyard life and childhood torment into a comedy juggernaut' (


1. eve Polycarpou23 Aug 2009, 1:50am5 stars You Fancy Yourself Report

Eve Polycarpou on August 23rd, 2009 1:32 am
Absolutely loved every minute of this! Went along with trepidation as a favour to a friend of a friend. Had no idea what to expect. Had no idea what the play was going to be about. Had no flier beforehand.
Ended up having the most amazing time! Was completely captivated by Maja’s mesmorising talent as a writer and performer. Her commitment, passion, charm. Could not take my eyes off her. Sometimes monologues need a lot of work from the audience..Whereas..
Maja’s incredible skill sustaining the enormous energy of ‘Elsa’ and all her contempories and then the different adults she comes into contact with…The variety of characters she effortlessly portrayed one after the other, in conversation with each other. ‘Elsa’s journey left me wanting more..
I question why this performance is not in The Traverse or any other major venue? A great piece of writing presented by a great actress and her use of music made my hair stand on end! ‘You fancy yourself’ is full of humour, presented with wonderful comic timing. It is touching, pertinent, poignant and at times deeply moving…
Don’t miss!!!
A ‘mistress’ at work!!!

(Actress in ‘Palace of the end’ at The Traverse)

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