Following the resounding success of The Sian Clarke’s Experience, Sian Clarke returns at the Edinburgh Fringe, once again directed by Ursula Martinez, with iCON, a one-woman show delving into the vacuity of the contemporary world. The performance harnesses Clarke’s trademark irreverence and aggression to narrate an existential crisis—a society teetering on the brink of collapse, governed solely by utter nonsense and devoid of genuine significance.
This thematic thread persists throughout the show: if nothing holds meaning anymore, we might as well have a “nice time” together, the artist seems to insist. Lacking a central core, iCON meanders from self-contained melodramatic movie scenes to comedic sketches, where the artist breaks the fourth wall and directly addresses the audience.
While adhering to a prewritten script, the performer invites volunteers on stage, involving them in the final rendition of a show for which we are supposed to take responsibility, yet one that we are fundamentally unable to comprehend, neither in its unfolding nor in retrospect.
By breaking the fourth wall, even offering tea and sitting among the audience, Sian Clarke attempts to be more than irreverent; she seeks to prompt reflection and engage us in something rather indistinct within a narrative-free and loosely structured format. The few stage props, like a suitcase in which the artist curls up before enclosing herself, are used without rhyme or reason. There are screams, sudden noises, whistles, and smoke, yet a lack of thought-provoking elements which would trigger the audience into deeper contemplation.
The threats from which we’re supposed to find some relief during our time together remain nebulous concepts offstage, never directly addressed. The audience’s discomfort doesn’t appear to stem from the societal senselessness the artist wants us to ponder but rather from a lack of provocation that devolves into gratuitous absurdity.
iCON seems to arise more from a dearth of ideas than artistic necessity—a sentiment even Clarke is reluctant to disown throughout the show, as she reiterates that if things go awry, the responsibility lies with us as much as with her.