• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Fringe 2023: Kissing a Fool

ByRosa Georgiou

Aug 10, 2023
kissing a fool cast

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Kissing a Fool is a profound and moving articulation of grief, fame, love, and the debilitating potential of creative pressure. The performance provides a deep dive into the mangled psyche of the beloved George Michael in a period of mourning that followed the death of his lover Anselmo Feleppa. In doing so, it eerily charts the tumultuous merging of love and loss in the creative process whilst reflecting sharply on the repercussions of queer isolation and the highly toxic media culture that followed Michael.

Written and performed by the dynamic creative partnership of Dylan Aiello and Scarlett Stitt, Kissing a Fool utilises a wonderful mingling of music, physical theatre, dance, and soundscapes. From the heady hues of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ to the woeful down beats of ‘A Different Corner’, Micheal’s music is used with sparing precision. At times it is cleverly distorted to parallel the volatile emotions presented, or overlaid with soundscapes drawn from media interviews, which emphasise key themes as the play develops.

A powerful interpretation of Michael’s experiences in this period, Aiello’s personal homage to the pop icon is moving. Particularly impressive is his capacity for physical storytelling, with his movements conveying all the joyous tragedy that floats throughout Micheal’s music. At his side, Stitt effortlessly transitions between a host of uncanny characters, from a ghostly apparition of his former lover, to his manager, to his mother. With effective clown-esque makeup and mannerisms, Stitt’s shapeshifting gives life to Michael’s inner fool; at times mocking, at others supporting, she leads him through a journey of creative reckoning and self-discovery.

Kissing a Fool is strongest for its use of movement as a transcendent form of storytelling. At his most burdened and burnt-out, Aiello is physically weighed down by Stitt, who is flung heavily across his shoulders. Elsewhere, it is she who pulls him up, whether to drag him through an eerily frantic rendition of Wham! or to dance with passionate tension to ‘Jesus to a Child’. Much of the movement revolves around a heavy wooden table, which morphs from bed to piano, to wall throughout the performance. Simple and effective, it reflects the isolation of the performance. A clear emotional climax comes when Michael is shown to be in a suicidal mental state, and the table is lifted into a door, through which Stitt appears as a pleading Shirlie Kemp, reminding him of the immense love for him in the world.

Kissing a Fool is creepy and intimate and has a mesmerising potential. As a tribute, it is enthralling without seeking to overstate any of its interpretations too much, and as a performance, it is a strong reminder of showing, not telling.

Kissing a Fool is on at Frankenstein Pub – Bier Keller at 6:00pm from August 10 till 13. Tickets are available here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/kissing-a-fool.

Image courtesy of Matt Hass, provided to The Student as press material.