“Manic Street Creature”, Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Margaret Rose at Summerhall
19 August 2022

Manic Street Creature, gig theatre at its finest (see my review of Bloody Elle), played at Paines Plough’s Roundabout venue (Summerhall).

Author, composer and singer Maimuna Memon has created a semi-autobiographical love story racked by pain and suffering but also full of love.

Memon plays Ria, a young woman from Lancashire who moves to London to further her career as a musician. In Camden she meets Daniel. Through words and hypnotic songs, brimming with gritty poetry, she gradually discovers, and uncovers for the audience, Daniel’s fragile mental health, which plunges their relationship into dark, unknown territory.

The Roundabout, a theatre in the round, proved highly suited to this confessional, immersive piece. Onstage three musicians – Memnon plays three different guitars and an accordion, Rachel Barnes, a cello, and Yusuf Memon, drums and a keyboard – animate the play, allowing ‘the voices’ of the different instruments to mark changes in tone and mood as the love story moves from happiness and hope to darkness.

This insightful work, while delving into the troubles experienced by a person with mental health issues, sets squarely before us the huge difficulties encountered by their loved ones.

The fine ensemble work of this trio and a terrific performance by Maimuna Memnon met with enthusiastic applause from what was a mainly young audience. Since my attendance, the piece has won a Scotsman’s Fringe First awards.