Fringe First and OFFIE winner Katie Bonna returns to Edinburgh with The Entertainment, a darkly comic, queer audio love story about the power and pain of imagination.
Written and performed by Bonna and directed by Amelia Sears, with sound design by Annie May Fletcher, The Entertainment will appear as part of the Summerhall Digital Fringe this year and will be included in the wider Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme.
In this intimate audio production, audiences will share Anna’s headphones to plummet into a world where the unreal feels disturbingly real. Audiences will also be able to join the creative team for a listening party at 6pm on Sunday 8 August, featuring an online Q&A with the creative team. More details and tickets can be found here.
You’re returning to Edinburgh Fringe with audio play The Entertainment, what can you tell us about the show?
It’s a darkly comic queer love story about the power and pain of imagination. Anna’s real life seems small, she’s treated like a skivvy by her narcissistic boss and lives in a flat above the office she works in, but she also has the perfect girlfriend, family and job- in her head.
Anna has a rich and detailed fantasy life and has done since she was young. She finds real life difficult and often imagines her colleagues being melted or gunned down by snipers when they put her on the spot. When Justine starts working as a party leader at the kids entertainment company where Anna works, her fantasy and real world are rocked and she is forced to consider the risk of going after something real.
What inspired you to write it?
My last Edinburgh show, All The Things I Lied About, was autobiographical and I loved performing it – but it also took it out of me in terms of my mental health and emotional wellbeing. The Entertainment began as a desire to write something fictional and fun, to give myself a different creative experience and revisit some of the fun I had performing Dirty Great Love Story (co-written with Richard Marsh) in 2012/13.
I have wanted to write a lesbian romcom for a long time and to set something in the world of kids entertainment for even longer, so those were my jumping off points. My work tends to circle around inherited trauma and the struggle for authentic connection, so Anna’s addiction blossomed naturally from there.
And why was it important to you that you also performed in The Entertainment?
I wouldn’t say it was important to me, it’s a play anyone can perform. If I do end up doing it as a live stage show, which I would love to do, I hope other people will perform it afterwards.
It was originally going to go to Edinburgh last year, what changes have you made to suit the digital programme?
We realised that the show would work really well as an audio production whilst we were developing it, often remotely, over the lockdowns. Amelia Sears (the director) and I knew that sound was fundamental in whatever production we were going to give it. Sound is what creates Anna’s fantasy worlds and it was such an exciting prospect being able to create this so intimately with the audience, through their headphones.
I am a redraft queen, try and hold me back from one! So, I adapted the script completely to suit the audio medium. Then we did a huge amount of work in post production, with sound designer Annie May Fletcher and composer Eamonn O’Dwyer, to create a rich world for the audience to be immersed in. It’s been a pretty thrilling ride, to be honest.
What opportunities has Summerhall’s Digital Fringe programme given you this year?
Everyone’s suffered with the absence of certainty since March last year and it feels incredible to know that people will definitely be able to hear this. A ping or a positive test can’t shut the fringe player down.
I have so much admiration for everyone who is performing live this year and I wish I felt secure enough to do it, but it’s not a risk that I (and many other artists) are able to take at this point. We need this kind of accessibility in the industry, a more affordable alternative to the live fringe, and I hope the digital fringe becomes a permanent part of the annual festival.
What would you say to anyone thinking of listening to The Entertainment?
Ideally: find somewhere quiet, get your favourite drink and get your headphones out. If that’s not possible, it will provide an entertaining backdrop to Saturday morning bathroom cleaning! I’d love you to hear it and I’d LOVE to know what you think. I am going to miss connecting with a live audience so much this year, so please don’t hesitate to reach out online!