Broke (2 stars)

This article is from 2014


Some sharp writing can't save this incoherent debtor play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Beginning with snippets of dialogue taken from real interviews with men and women who suffer with debt problems, Broke’s rapid fire delivery is disorientating and alienating. Despite the clear subject matter – the pain of financial failure – the jarring use of rewinding tape recorders and garish graphics confuse rather than clarify.

Once the case studies are elaborated upon, the show picks up intensity, with some strong set pieces. A loan application process, parodied in the style of Deal of No Deal, is genuinely funny, as is the parliamentary debate from 1990 shown through colour-coded sock puppets.

The show succeeds most when it manages to connect the abstract notion of debt with personal tragedy and a sense of real helplessness. Sharp writing makes something as mundane as a charity run for a dogs home a truly terrifying prospect. However these sections, strong in themselves, do not link together into a coherent narrative and a confused conclusion undoes some of the earlier good work.

Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 25 Aug (not 12), £9–£12 (£8–11).


  • 2 stars

The Paper Birds Multi award-winners The Paper Birds (Thirsty, In a Thousand Pieces) return with a new verbatim production exploring the debt of a nation. Based on interviews taken across the UK in 2014, this heartfelt show explores what it means to be broke, from feeling the pinch to finding yourself penniless in this…

Broke By Paper Birds

Broke is a passionate and thoughtful show which begins by reflecting a range of verbatim interviews with people living on low incomes. There's no resisting the passion in which this young company exposes the truth about poverty in this country.