Adventures in Menstruating began life as a comedy piece, before becoming a full-blown research project and coming back full circle to the comedy genre and this show. But unlike most other comic acts in Edinburgh, this one has a strong sense of purpose – to spread a message.
The performer, Brooklyn native Chella Quint, has an enthusiastic openness which immediately puts us all at ease, and encourages us to get involved. As the audience, we are very much part of the proceedings along with Quint, and are free to interject with questions or thoughts at any point. Having carried out extensive research, and become a spokesperson, educator and campaigner on menstruation, she cares deeply and is passionate about her subject.
She also understands that not everyone will be comfortable with the topic and is sensitive to this, using some opening games and exercises to both gauge where we're all at with it and to break the ice in the group. Throughout the piece, she uses lots of visual aids – props, PowerPoint and diagrams – and provides all of us with a 'goody bag' at the end. I came away feeling better-informed and having had my eyes opened, particularly in terms of the advertising of sanitary products.
On the night I was there the audience was all-female, but she assures us that there have been many men through the door who have all really enjoyed the show. I think she definitely has the ability to relate to and work with anybody, regardless of any differences. I certainly hadn't quite known what to expect from Adventures in Menstruating and, to the credit of our bubbly, well-informed hostess, I was pleasantly surprised.
You'll be learning more than you're laughing, but you'll also come away having had a bit of silly fun with a bunch of strangers; this will probably be the only show of this year's Fringe which had me learning a dance routine. The timings were off on the night, and starting late or overrunning even by 5-10 minutes (as happened here) can be really frustrating for audience members on tight schedules. Given the nature of free venues, though, it would be unfair to be overly critical.
In terms of Fringe experiences, Adventures in Menstruating is pretty unique. Not really comparable with stand-up sets, this is more of an interactive hour of educational fun, with a good few giggles along the way.