Audiences are invited into Cam Spence’s (or should we say Janet Waitrose’s) Sunshine Clinic for an hour of unconventional therapy alongside an array of characters who have checked into the facility. Some unsuspecting audience members also inadvertently become ‘patients’, although on this particular day it would be fair to say that they’re not all keen participants.
Spence carries on regardless, utilising an incredibly clever and effective video stream which is timed beautifully to allow more than one of her absurd characters to be on stage at one time. In that respect the show has a quirky quality and a storyline which should be able to pull the show through. Sadly though, some of the audience interaction just does not work.
Aside from the fact that some of those Spence has chosen to take part are reluctant, there are odd moments where the room is invited to shout “yes, queen” (why?) and to point and heckle a photograph of Vladimir Putin which has absolutely no relevance to the show and just feels frankly uncomfortable. Some audience moments are better – four people are invited to draw clinic leader Janet Waitrose as part of ‘art therapy’ – with some hilarious results.
There is a loose storyline whereby an internationally-renowned journalist is admitted to The Sunshine Clinic and ultimately uncovers crimes of embezzlement. There is nothing wrong with this premise; it just all feels very forced and incredibly cheesy. Of course lots of things at the Fringe could be described thus, but there is a great skill in working with your audience and reading the room. Telling a middle-aged woman in the front row that her husband has probably left her because of her problems could cut very much too close to the bone.
Spence has some great skills at her disposal and clearly a wealth of characters; however, she will need to work on her audience interaction if she is to succeed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the future.