Going on past experience, most autobiographical “my life” solo shows at the Fringe tend to be rather navel gazing, dull affairs, with any cathartic value normally the preserve of the performer rather than the audience.
Not so in the case of Eilish O’Carroll’s wonderfully entertaining one woman show, Live Love Laugh which is an absolute treat from start to finish. Not to mention one of the most life affirming hours I’ve ever spent in the theatre. Quite frankly if you don’t come out of this show feeling better than when you went in you have no soul.
Best known as Winnie McGoogan in her brother Brendan’s successful BBC sitcom, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Eilish comes into her own here with this reflective look on an eventful life that includes a strict Catholic upbringing, two failed marriages (one of them abusive), and coming out as a lesbian at the age of 50.
If this doesn’t sound your cup of tea you couldn’t be more wrong. There is absolutely nothing downbeat about this show. Instead it echoes Goethe’s line that “the point of life is life.”
A 50s baby, and the ninth of ten children, (Brendan was the last, usurping her as “the baby”) she describes her childhood with affection and good humour, be it straining to be heard above the rest of the brood, or attending her first confession.
Then there’s her discovery of the Big O via the hydraulics on a double decker bus. And her discovery of sex. In this respect the pages of Jackie magazine taught her that there was nothing sinful about masturbating, while her best friend equipped her with some nonsensical urban myths regarding the facts of life.
Sex features quite a lot in the show, but never in a crude way. At one stage she was sure that there was something wrong downstairs because her sex life was unfulfilling. Catholic guilt is also in plentiful supply here. But she eventually succeeds in rising above it.
Her discovery that she was a lesbian is also tenderly handled with good humour. The end result is a warm, witty triumph that joyously celebrates being true to yourself. And you can’t ask for more than that.
Eilish O’Carroll: Live Love Laugh, Pleasance Courtyard, until Aug 24. Tel: 0131 556 6550