Bridget Christie’s 2016 Fringe hour was titled Mortal and was going to be all about death. Since the EU referendum, however, she’s jettisoned all that heavy stuff to bring us a show on gardening. No politics, no feminism, just Christie talking about the mighty fuchsia that’s the envy of her neighbour. After all, what better way to deal with the whole post-Brexit turmoil than not to bother thinking about any of it at all?
That fuchsia is thriving in the Stoke Newington soil despite its South American origins. Which is interesting when we come to think about it: as we are soon to discover, everything is connected to everything else and tangled like roots. A recurring theme is a lack of political confidence and its consequences, and by the end of this hour the word ‘appeasement’ and its connotations can’t help but spring to mind. As Christie would put it, a problem is ‘not calling people out’ and how this normalises the batshit and dangerous.
It is a searing, wall-thumping holler from The Stand’s basement, but what truly elevates the hour is Bridget Christie herself. Like many, she asks why people feel cast adrift from politics, or how the steep rise in racially-motivated crimes since June has been fostered. Are racists just uneducated? Christie calls bullshit on some popular ideas, and it’s all the better coming from her. It’s easy to forget one of our most intelligent voices is entirely uneducated, at least in academic terms, having left school before her exams. Again, she puts it better, “Look, I’m a total dicksplat.”
Dicksplat or not, she talks to the dicksplat in all of us. This hour comes from the kind of person it’d be nice to have a conversation with; her authenticity and lack of pretension is what makes this show human – quite unlike one of the Brexiteers she caricatures. And for all we’ve ‘had enough of experts’, within the despair there is also enlightenment and maybe some hope.