Daisy (Sarah Milton) gets her first flush of success at the swim meet and the endorphin rush is exhilarating. Maybe that’s why Milton talks so fast for the majority of Tumble Tuck, instantly likeable but often tricky to follow. She’s a swimmer hoping to break into the big leagues. In the water she’s free from suffocating mothers or bitchy fellow athletes or pushy coaches or murderous ex-boyfriends. It’s a shame that the real world has to interfere really.
Milton’s script has great emotional analysis – an insight into nervous Daisy, constantly ridiculed for being a “big girl”. Daisy is growing up and finding it hard to be a mature adult. She lives with a mum who validates life through Daisy’s success; she trains with Danny whose intense energy piles on the pressure; she has to deal with seemingly perfect Kath who effortlessly wins medals and has a body-perfect image. Daisy is the insecurity in us all, trying desperately to be happy with who she is. Milton encapsulates this in her bubbly, affable characterisation.
Although moving at a swift pace, Milton pushes the audience along with her, determined not to be weighed down in the water by the baggage of life. Daisy begins to realise that strength comes through acceptance of your demons; Milton’s performance is transparent enough to reveal the inner processes that she goes through to finally believe in herself. The relationship with the audience is one of support; we are invested enough to join Daisy on her journey.
There’s something like Dark Vanilla Jungle in this monologue, albeit it without the darker subtext and explosive ending. Tumble Tuck adds layering with sub-plots and conflicting emotions, which will benefit from further development and added text. Daisy’s best friend (an amusing homage to Moaning Myrtle, as performed by Milton) falls in love with her murderous ex-boyfriend and causes Daisy to spiral back into old, dangerous habits. The self-destructive pattern needs further emphasis by Milton but is all too familiar for us all – the wracking self-doubt and low confidence that multiplies and grinds away at your rationality. Milton knows how to glean empathy from the audience with relatable language and a believable level of conflict.
The ending to Tumble Tuck rushes up far too fast – a slow build-up that is afraid to linger on the climax and pushes through too rashly. But when Daisy comes out the other side, she achieves a sense of self-confidence in accepting her flaws and, more importantly, celebrating her true beauty. She is good enough – a statement that will benefit from a stronger sense of gravitas in Milton’s delivery.
Milton has the makings of an emotional powerhouse in Tumble Tuck, with some further script elaboration and character definition. Down to earth and witty, it contrasts our external with inner beauty adeptly.
Tumble Tuck plays Underbelly Cowgate as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 27 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.