Echolalia (3 stars)

This article is from 2014


Echoes of vaudeville in one-woman performance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Kiwi performer Jen McArthur's character Echo is a woman on the autistic spectrum, who needs numbers and endless routine to make it through the day. Her seemingly endless struggle to leave the house is an amusing spin on retro vaudeville, right down to full skirted dress and radio.

Echo inhabits her own world, with a check list of hair-brushing, calling someone for a job she will never get and a faux-coffee commercial, and all of her movements are utterly true to the spirit of silent film clowning. It is wonderful to see a woman doing the traditional male clowning role. She claps her hands and salutes when a task is completed, only to be replaced by the same rigmarole again, ad infinitum.

With too much reliance on audience participation, it is perhaps not as affecting as it should be, but McArthur is a gifted and likeable performer with immense charm and comic timing. When she does a full dance routine it is joyful, whether in her chair or vacuuming biscuit crumbs using a Hoover with a mind of its own.

Echolalia may be a slightly flawed slice of physical theatre, but worth it for the fantastic switchboard operator routine alone.

Gilded Balloon, 622 6552 until Aug 24 (not 11,19), 1.45pm, £10 (£8).


  • 3 stars

Jen McArthur and Kallo Collective A young woman on the autistic spectrum prepares for a job interview and society's social norms are put under the spotlight in this uplifting clown theatre performance by Jen McArthur. Inspired by the different perspectives of autistic children she worked with. ‘Both Samuel Beckett and…