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18th September 2022

Review: How To Keep Up With The Kardashians

Lily Young reviews How To Keep Up With The Kardashians at Underbelly (Edinburgh Fringe)
Review: How To Keep Up With The Kardashians
Photo: So La Flair.

This summer, Manchester-based theatre company, So La Flair made a showstopping debut at the Edinburgh Fringe with the fabulously feminist How To Keep Up With The Kardashians.

Throughout their first year as a company, So La Flair made a powerful splash into the creative scene at festival performances across the UK. The collective of UoM graduates visibly prioritises inclusivity, presenting seven performers who explore their intimate relationship with their bodies. Each tackles a different insecurity, transforming “flaws” into a source of empowerment. The display of diversity onstage puts individualism first and teaches us to treasure the uniqueness of our own bodies.

How To Keep Up With The Kardashians is a witty combination of theatre, comedy, and cabaret. It criticises Keeping Up culture, the pressure to be plastic, and the farce of our current capitalistic beauty standard. So La Flair dares to demand the Kardashians keep their mitts off our bodies, and advocate every individual’s right to feel beautiful, regardless of size, shape, race or identity.

The cast successfully discards self-destructive thoughts on appearance, like an abandoned bra at the end of a long day – enthusiastically tossed aside to enjoy freedom and liberation outside the constricts of societal ideals.

While the show tends to scoff at ludicrous beauty standards, directors Lucy Laverty and Scarlett Spicer balance fast-paced comedy with honest and touching monologues as they explore knock-on implications to our mental health. The stand-out soliloquy belongs to Millie Loveday Inglis, who passionately brings the audience to tears as she interrogates a Black girl’s relationship with beauty. She states, “When he says he ‘doesn’t fancy black girls,’ I know he’s not talking about me”.

One of the many aspects of production deserving its own round of applause was the outstanding sound design of Sofia Armella. She cleverly stitches together sound bites from popular media (TV, social media and otherwise) to provide irrefutable evidence of an overwhelming toxicity that infests content we digest daily – we’re looking at you, Khloé and Kim.

So La Flair does not refrain from holding those who irresponsibly wield influence accountable in a bold proclamation of self-love. Their openness achieves an incredible level of intimacy as powerful verbatim and undeniable chemistry establishes an empowering sense of solidarity between audience and performer. With the help of great music taste, boatloads of talent and brilliant writing, the hour flies by. Post-standing ovation, the audience leave with a spring in their step, and a renewed sense of self-confidence, standing just that teeny tiny bit taller.

This smash-hit, sell-out is one of my Fringe favourites; it’s hilarious, it’s touching and an inspiration to the University of Manchester Drama department. Speaking on behalf of the audience, we were incredibly safe in the hands of So La Flair.

How To Keep Up With the Kardashians returns to Manchester on 23rd September, where it will play at the John Thaw Studio in the Martin Harris Centre.

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