An evening with Amanda F* Palmer is literally an evening with Amanda F* Palmer. She shares her personal stories, feelings and thoughts. You laugh, you cry, you laugh, you cry. You are alive. She says that “life is pretty f* weird”, and you nod. With her powerful presence, she captures your full attention and you just listen and feel. Lost friends, lost babies, relationships, marriage, motherhood, doughnuts, Trump… all part of life.
In this show, Amanda experiments with a preview of an upcoming tour. She presents briefly a timeline of her solo career and her married life, and she talks about the inspiration and the stories behind the songs that she performs. Palmer is one half of the musical duo The Dresden Dolls, who describe their style as “Brechtian punk cabaret” and who in October will be playing their first European gig in over a decade.
She gets on stage and, with just a ukulele and a voice that gives you goosebumps, she fills the theatre with life and death. Black humour played out on a piano, and you are part of it. It’s not a joke, but you laugh. And then the piano is sad, and she wipes her tears, and you wipe yours. But when she asks if you want a “relief song”, you say “no”, because you want to hear more of her sad stories. Maybe because you sympathise with her, maybe because of her amazing storytelling and realistic lyrics, or maybe because you know that soon after she will make you laugh and you will instantly feel better.
“It’s okay to talk about what’s happening”, she says, and she does. She talks about abortion, cancer, Bruce Springsteen(!), Kickstarter and haters, the Dresden Dolls, her husband and her baby, her book, love and art. And then she sings about it all. She manages to create images in your head and encourages you to relive her stories.
The strong melodies, the cynical and satirical tone, the interaction with the audience; they all create an atmosphere of togetherness. But she also makes you think and question. Would you forgive someone who killed your child? Does inspiration go away when you stop being sad? Did you stop being sad? Can you stop being sad? No, you are still sad. How can you not be sad after that story from last Christmas she shares? And then you think that women are so strong, that they can do everything. And she is a bright example.
An evening with Amanda F* Palmer is like watching six movies in three hours: two musicals, an autobiography, a drama, a black comedy and a whimsical. The characters of her stories seem fictional, the stories sound surreal, but she is so real. If you loved Dresden Dolls or you didn’t, if you’ve seen her live before or you haven’t, this show might change the way you think about life. The next day you might buy a ukulele and live happily ever after.
An evening with Amanda F* Palmer
Queen’s Hall (Venue 72)
Image: Edinburgh Fringe Media