There’s a well-trodden saying that you can turn absolutely anything in to an Edinburgh Fringe show, and in the age of social media why wouldn’t that be true for some viral video content too. Amy Booth-Steel is Honest Amy, or #HonestAmy in a nod to the social media success that has led her to the Pleasance Dome.
A well known and respected actress, Amy Booth-Steel has had a few bad years, which all began when she was diagnosed with stage three cancer. After several difficult operations she is now cancer free, but has suffered from PTSD, anxiety and depression as a result and has an uncanny of knack of making mistakes in life.
Amy tells us that she deals with things through humour, and that certainly shines through as she sings about the agony she has gone through while playing simple tunes on a ukulele. The comedy comes from Amy herself, and her ability to make anything sound funny through tone of voice and facial expressions, but I found myself questioning whether I should be laughing at a song where the singer is contemplating being dead by Christmas.
Amy also tells us fairly early on “I don’t know what I’m doing, I feel a bit vulnerable”, and that vulnerability is evident. While it endears us to Amy even more, we can only hope that this show is helping her to heal, and not making things even worse – this isn’t a person who deserves any more heartache.
Honest Amy is directed by Kathy Burke, which perhaps explains the torrent of swearing that seems so incongruous to Amy’s nature. Some bits of the piece work well and others fall flat, the songs all sound alike which Amy herself admits is due to her only having learned the first six chords on the ukulele, and even manages to turn that in to an amusing little ditty.
It is, as it promises, a completely honest show and you cannot help but respect and admire Amy’s bravery. Her story should serve as a beacon of hope for anyone facing a difficult time, but that message doesn’t quite manage to come across. Amy Booth-Steel is a magnificent performer, but as a show, Honest Amy doesn’t give her the platform she deserves.