Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: How I Became Myself (By Becoming Someone Else), reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett
What’s in a name? A documentary-maker-turned-performer finds out in this autobiographical show, blending recorded footage with confessional monologue, as Paula Varjack – born Sara Quin, or her Ghanaian name Akosua – describes her transformation from camera-shy filmmaker to performance poet and live-artist, which involved a change of name, country (from London to Berlin) and sexuality, leaving her girlfriend for a man.
Sara became the showier, more confident and glamorously dressed Paula over the course of a research and development residency for a show, becoming so immersed in the role that she began to identify more strongly with it than her former self. Varjack adeptly draws on this personal transition to ask wider questions about performance and identity, as she recounts her friends’ and parents’ reaction to her new chosen name. She intercuts interviews with friends on the process of naming their children, and Lady Gaga on how she came by her pop star moniker.
This insight into how what began as a performance persona became someone’s new personality is a fascinating look at the way we forge our identities through constant change – and the boundaries between art and life.
Cowgatehead (venue 32), until 29 August, 12:30pm
Published in The Scotsman on 24 August 2015
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