Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

@ Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, until Mon 31 Aug 2015 @ 18:30

The eponymous heroine of Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl is a marvellous confection named Joanie, whose likable persona and mellifluous voice draw the audience into her Toronto coffeeshop world, and keep them there with seemingly little effort but maximum hold, to the end of this enjoyable and effervescent hour.

Written and performed by the talented Rebecca Perry, Joanie is joined onstage at various times by numerous secondary characters who are seamlessly impersonated by Perry herself. Thus, she expertly navigates the biggest pitfall of the monologue form—the likelihood of one voice becoming grating after a while. This is not the case here; this charismatic anthropology graduate-turned-barista, gives us a mini snapshot of her life, all the while comparing her colleagues and customers to disparate animal forms found in the jungle.

Occasionally, too, she sings: a little random, perhaps, but not at all unwelcome. Perry’s gorgeous, crooning voice suits the “oldies”, which she delivers beautifully, and they slip organically into the story on the whole. Crucially, though, they illustrate and flesh out Joanie’s character, and highlight the loneliness that underscores her life.

The production is expertly supported by its aesthetic design, by Matt Bernard’s direction and by Quinton Naughton’s musical arrangements (which are performed live in this intimate space). Despite the title, this little gem of a show is less of a confessional and more of a charming slice of life, to which is added just the right amount of craziness to keep it from becoming too twee.

Joanie sings a beautiful rendition of Judy Garland’s famous ballad, Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart. More than one heart in this frequently sold-out room undoubtedly “zings” during Perry’s performance, and booking ahead would not be unwise.