Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Beautiful Nothing is a new one-woman play written by Em Oliver, presented by Suffragette Theatre Company at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play explores a young woman who has been flung into the public eye. It tackles what it is to deal with fame, media, and the taunting presence of the online community at such a young and vulnerable age.
Beautiful Nothing is directed by Charlie Barnett. Her direction is organic, allowing the actress (Bhav Amar) to really dig deep into the multi-faceted character. Barnett’s blocking is also well-crafted, as she manages to use the full space of the stage whilst not forcing unnecessary business into the scene. It is fantastic to see up and coming young female directors making their mark on the fringe stage. She is aided by the brilliance of Oliver’s script. With naturalistic dialogue, witty one-liners, and incredibly well-placed poignant moments, Oliver’s script is surely one of the most well-written one-person shows at this year’s Fringe.
Bhav Amar seems nervous to begin with but settles into the character and the space within a few minutes. She is naturalistic, funny, well-polished and plays well with the audience. She has an easiness about her which draws the audience in and keeps them engaged for the full 50 minutes of the play. Her nuanced choices are excellent, and she is fantastic in this role. A thoroughly enjoyable performance.
The set is a colourful wash of blankets, embroidered with spiteful words, sayings and contrasting floral designs. Its antithetical nature is emulated in the script, as the character struggles with her desire for work, independence, and her innocent naïve nature pulling her in a completely different direction. We see this cumulate in her final word “Mum” as she runs off stage towards her mother’s arms, desperate for familiarity and comfort in a world that is slowly trying to suffocate her.
The lighting design is simplistic, as it is with most Fringe shows, but works well in the space with subtle changes highlighting the growing stakes and character’s mood shifts. The intermittent phone notifications and Amar’s reactions to those penetrating sounds are perfectly timed. The soundscape is well-designed and suits the show.
This is a wonderful new play by Em Oliver, presented by Suffragette Theatre Co. It has a bright future and tells such a relevant and important story. I hope to see it return again, and encourage you to buy a ticket if you ever get the chance to see it.