Ursula Invents Old Woman

MJ Kaufman

Marcia Ferguson and Mason Rosenthal (USA)

C nova

From 10 August 2015 to 15 August 2015

Rating: ***

Review by Graeme Strachan

Ponderances on the complex matters of existentialism, identity, age, gender and self expression are all par for the course at the Edinburgh Fringe. Making these explorations interesting to the audience is always the key part of the creation of the piece.

In Ursula Invents Old Woman, the company has used well-known feminist fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K Le Guin, interacting with a real-life alien being.

Early in the play, we see Le Guin reading a segment from her essay Introducing Myself, a long monologue abouther place in life and that as there were "only men" in life someone should "invent old women" at which the alien asks her a series of strange but delving questions before appearing at her home and continuing the conversation.

It's a good idea, and well enough performed, with Marcia Ferguson as the weary and laconic writer's blocked author and Mason Rosenthal's alien being as her opposite in motion, all twitchy, over-energetic boistorousness and broken speech made up of fragments of American TV commercial dialogue.

The trouble is that the style actually feels like it gets in the way of the point of the show, as do the frequent time jumps and the lack of clarity as to the meaning of the relationship between the two characters.

As a result, the closure feels forced and unintuitive, while the midsection of the piece drags at points. Still, as novel Fringe ideas go, this certainly ranks as one of the more inventive.