Beth Vyse stars as her alter-ego, recovering-alcoholic daytime TV presenter Olive Hands, in a surreal and gutsy performance about the pressures of motherhood. Vyse takes car-crash television to brave new heights of comedy gold in this daytime show gone wrong.
Our hapless host staggers and blags her way through her once-popular morning slot, but a mix up with her D-list celebrity guests means audience ratings are slipping through her fingers; she needs all the help she can get. Step forward a willing studio audience (us), who are called upon to lend a helping hand in a variety of hilarious, weird and inventive ways – keeping the show on air and reviving the career of its washed-up protagonist.
Also on hand is Hands' co-star and Beth Vyse's actual baby, who makes a number of show-stealing cameo appearances to great effect. It's a bold move, and one that pays off well in the context of the performance. This is a show brimming with bizarre and original ideas, embracing the true spirit and anarchy of the fringe by delivering some testing material. One moment in particular left me impressively queasy, and I cannot get the image out of my head for love nor money!
There are also some important themes here, things that aren't spoken about enough: the difficulties of balancing motherhood and a career, and the guilt that many mothers face in choosing one over the other. It would be easy to dismiss Olive Hands as an off-the-wall character who can't deal with life, but in reality she's making it work against the odds… and it's sadly symbolic of the age we live in that it takes some pretty extreme actions for the world to take notice.