Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is a passionate commitment to finding the surreal in social expectations of women and motherhood. The show explores the journey of Olive Hands, a back-to-work mum and daytime TV presenter who returns with her first live ‘come-back’ episode.
Keen to retain her title as ‘your number two in the morning’ as the second most popular daytime TV presenter in the UK, we also meet baby Hands, the adorable Henry, who makes cameo appearances during the show. Like mother, like son, he is equally upbeat and seems swept up in the ever-present moments of comedy.
The show is a fast-paced chaotic comedy expedition, with hilariously surreal audience participation (whether they like it or not), which eventually gets everyone on board. Vyse is also a fantastic actor and her heightened masculine impersonation of Paddy McGuinness also makes her a hugely popular performer on the London drag king scene.
There is plenty of leopard print as well as giant props flying around as Olive Hands tries to stop her show derailing between ad breaks. What’s great about this show is that we are able to see the chaotic arc of the comic journey because the work is so well produced. The combination of high-quality colourful projections, audio, short films and imagery are so slick they immerse us in the wacky world of a daytime TV studio.
We enjoy a packed schedule, which includes a televised birth, as we witness the increasing demands on our host. We see external pressures and expectations delivered in the form of live feedback with a social media feed from viewers. Beth’s warmth shines through her character creation and you can’t help but think there are elements of art imitating life in this performance. We see a hard-working mum re-launching her career in a challenging industry that undervalues the role of being a mum at the best of times. This isn’t just a comedy show but a positive statement on motherhood and definitions of success. The result is an honest depiction of shifting priorities, laughing at how life can change and also the magic of reinvention.
Beth Vyse as Olive Hands: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is at 15:45 at Monkey Barrel 2 until 26th August. For tickets and more information click here!
Our coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe comes to you with the support of Starling Bank, the mobile-only bank that takes your money seriously. Through their campaign #MakeMoneyEqual, Starling is promoting the often difficult conversations about money and giving women a voice.