Katy Brand: I Was a Teenage Christian
An understated show about losing faith and celebrity deaths
This has been quite the year for celebrity deaths. Like many of us, Katy Brand keenly felt the passing of luminaries such as Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne. Unlike most of us, she inadvertently found herself on the speed dial of Sky News and was repeatedly summoned to share her grief with the wider public. As the Grim Reaper sowed its bumper harvest, Brand thought again about her past dalliance with organised religion, and I Was a Teenage Christian details her casual membership of a church group for young adults.
Describing herself as an uncool child, she explains how church gave her somewhere to fit in. She was never entirely convinced by the ideology but it was a safe place to hang out and she quite fancied fellow member Ben. But a viewing of Martin Scorsese's controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ first begat a crisis of faith. And later, when her church chose to censor the Harry Potter books, Brand experienced her own Damascene conversion. She explains that although the church was capable of raising her as a teenager it was unable to bring her up as an adult. After leaving the young Christian group, she went on to a secular university, studied theology and left that life behind her.
Brand doesn't look entirely comfortable on stage and her yarn is neither interesting nor funny enough to fully engage. She's chosen to tell this shaggy dog story without embellishment and it meanders with scant incident and to little consequence. There are no last-minute twists here, no great revelations or larger-than-life characters. Unlike most long-form stories at the Fringe, it's easy to believe that everything relayed here happened exactly as she claims, and fans of her TV show may be surprised by her understated performance.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 15), 4.45pm, £10–£13.50 (£9–£12.50).