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Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Ania Magliano / Leo Reich / Chloe Petts | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Ania Magliano / Leo Reich / Chloe Petts

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 reviews: Ania Magliano / Leo Reich / Chloe Petts

Bisexuality, a stunning debut, and acting like a lad

Ania Magliano's debut show is about her sexuality - and much moreMatt Stronge

Ania Magliano, Pleasance Courtyard 

Ania Magliano is debuting at the Fringe with Absolutely No Worries If Not, an hour that explores her sexual awakening. She has only recently realised she's bisexual, which means she still likes straight culture. “I think All Bar One is a great space,” she say drily.

Magliano, an instantly likeable presence on stage, used to work in Lush – cue some cruel but very funny descriptions of those who work and shop there – and talks about her time at an all-girls boarding school. She describes the two kinds of girl it produces – those who had eating disorders, like her, and those who are really, really into horses. In a particularly strong section of the show, she then posits what happens to girls obsessed with ponies when they grow up and go out into the world. It's a wonderful piece of surreal fantasy.

Elsewhere she talks about the effect of reading Jacqueline Wilson novels as a child (some parents may wish to revisit their decision to allow their youngsters to read them after seeing this show), sex parties, buying a cat on Gumtree and the significance of Timothée Chalamet. Magliano brings some fresh insights into what could be formulaic material.

You may wonder about the purpose of the on-stage television screen (unused during the show); stay till the end to find out, as it has some very neat gags that reference much of what has gone before.

Until 28 August


Leo Reich, Pleasance Courtyard 

Oh my goodness, what a debut this is. He’s only 23, but Leo Reich has created an incredibly well crafted hour of comedy that skewers Gen-Z's narcissism and judgmental attitudes, and delivers one of the highest laugh counts of the Fringe.

“I'm bisexual,” Reich declares at the top of Literally Who Cares?! (like every other 20-something comic at this year's Fringe). And then the deliciously timed payoff: “Ninety per cent gay and 10 per cent absolutely committed to proving kids in Year 9 wrong.” And so starts a show brimming with ideas and inventiveness, performed with non-stop energy.

Reich tells the tale of his schoolboy crush (which he is totally over, no really), his years of pretending to be straight, his struggles as a middle-class lad from Islington with a dad who works at Deutsche Bank, and his oppression for being queer. He assures us he has beliefs but just can't at this moment remember them, as he wrote them down in his old phone. All this told through the medium of song, dance and excerpts from Reich's memoir and the romcom screenplay he has written.

This is a pitch-perfect satire on the vapidity of his online media-obsessed generation, with many a knowing wink as Reich points to the emperor's clothes. Or perhaps that should be his “brand”, one of the many buzzwords that pepper the show.

This is an astonishingly accomplished first show.

Until 28 August


Chloe Petts, Pleasance Courtyard 

Chloe Petts came to the festival with various plaudits to her name, and Transience is a confident Fringe debut (directed by Rose Johnson) in which she deals with some vexed elements in the sex and sexuality debate.

Petts warms up the audience with a few references to her lockdown experience, saying that she thought we had all become a little more stupid during the time. She realised this when she watched The Masked Singer “and quite enjoyed it”. But she doesn't consider herself superior, far from it; in much of her material Petts is the butt of the joke, an approach much helped by her laid-back delivery.

She goes on to talk about her “pre-gay” life (breaking down the components of a picture of 16-year-old Petts in a pink blancmange explosion of a prom dress), and her move to becoming “the man I always wanted to be” – although this isn't always accepted by others. Petts addresses the issue through her love of football and in particular Crystal Palace Football Club, and how her neighbours in the stands treat her.

Petts says as one of the lads she hopes she can benefit from male privilege – but it doesn’t always work like that, and she details her mother's response to the first time she was misgendered as a girl, and a more recent incident at her local newsagent. A polished debut.

Until 28 August


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