Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

Courtney Pauroso’s Gutterplum takes its audience on an intense and hilarious journey in what is an hour of utter chaos that somehow portrays a deep life-spanning story within an hour.

Starting with an adolescent character, Pauroso experiences various stages of life. To mark each stop in her journey, Pauroso showcases her strong physical comedy and acting ability, employing various props, make up, and costumes to help tell her character’s story. The involvement of a randomly-chosen audience participant – who becomes her co-star in this journey – helps create a nuanced way of explaining the life-cycle of a relationship.

Although Pauroso’s interactions with her chosen partner are often repetitive, these actions take on different meanings as her life progresses. The significance of each interplay is effortlessly conveyed to the audience: everyone understands what is happening onstage without the need for any explicit explanation. What is equally impressive is how the untrained co-star is able to pick up on Pauroso’s cues: so much so that, by the end of the performance, the only plausible explanation is that the audience member must be a plant. This is a testament to the depth of character created by Pauroso, and the time she has taken to engage her audience.

The transition between the various stages of life depicted by Pauroso is quite startling at times, which keeps the audience wondering what madness will come next. It also allows you to appreciate the real changes that people make throughout their lives, and the trials they must face and try to overcome. Pauroso uses her gender to make Gutterplum a coming-of-age story that focuses on how women must confront the confusing sexuality and objectification subjected upon them as they transition from adolescence into adulthood. These themes are well cloaked through hilarious gags, particularly due to Pauroso’s willingness to throw her whole self into the performance.

Every action taken by Pauroso is purposeful and performed skilfully. This helps to leave the audience with a completely different perspective from when they arrived. Moreover, Gutterplum ends with a completely transformed image of Pauroso’s character, leaving you unbelievably impressed with Pauroso’s talent to structure such a profound story and complex character.