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' (


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