Disabled Coconut – Aaron Simmonds, Great Yorkshire Fringe 2019 (Edinburgh Fringe Preview)

press image of aaron simmonds in wheelchair, facing front and juggling coconuts
Image Credits: Great Yorkshire Fringe

Press tickets #gifted in exchange for review.

★★★★☆

Any performance that kicks off by quizzing unsuspecting audience members on what their favourite disability is, is one that I can 100% get on board with. Within the opening minutes of the set, having already pitted Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy against each other and thrown in a disability-oriented Harry Potter reference, I knew I could relax and enjoy Aaron Simmonds’ preview of his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe performances.

With recent credentials including being a BBC New Comedy Award finalist and Jewish Comedian of the Year 2018, Disabled Coconut fearlessly tackles some of the big issues: disability and identity, stigma and public perceptions, sex and relationships, social media trolling, and most importantly, the coveted accessible seats on public transport.

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Abigail’s Party, Grand Opera House York

abigail's party press image featuring cast awkwardly sat on sofa and two people stood behind looking at each other suspiciously

Expectations: 3.5/5

Reality: 3.5/5

Chronic Illness-Friendly: 4.5/5

Having never heard of Abigail’s Party* before and deciding to see it based on the synopsis alone, I went into this show with no idea what to expect. And having come out the other side as the small cast took their bows… I still wasn’t quite sure what on Earth I’d just witnessed, but knew it was unlike any theatre experience I’d had before.

See, here’s the thing. When I use words like ‘monotonous’, ‘slow-moving’ and ‘cringe-worthy’, you’d ordinarily expect these to be negative things reflecting a sub-par performance. However, Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party uses these things so painfully deliberately that it was actually quite brilliant. It took me a while to warm up to this alternative performance style, and a degree of patience was required at the beginning, but when things started to shift into place in the audience’s heads, you could almost sense the entire congregation getting on board and appreciating the show all the more for it.

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