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Review: HOW TO BUILD A WAX FIGURE, Assembly George Square Studios

Review: HOW TO BUILD A WAX FIGURE, Assembly George Square Studios

Review of How to Build a Wax Figure at Edinburgh Fringe

Review: HOW TO BUILD A WAX FIGURE, Assembly George Square Studios Review: HOW TO BUILD A WAX FIGURE, Assembly George Square Studios

Put simply, How to Build a Wax Figure is a tale of romantic anguish.

17-year-old Bea falls for her 32-year-old mentor Margot, an anatomical wax artist who lives next door to her family home. Bea tries to figure out what she wants from her future, but her relationship with the older woman makes these hypothetical pathways tricky to sculpt as she tries to extricate her potential from her passion. Years later, Bea prepares to give a lecture, still hopelessly stuck on Margot. Enter Dana, a Wellcome Collection events facilitator who interrupts her thoughts and stops her in her tracks, driving her to question how she might move on.

The complexities put forward by the age gap between Margot and Bea are central to the storyline. In the context of the seemingly infinite canon of art about older men dating teenagers (An Education, Call me By Your Name, Breathe In, American Beauty... I could go on), How to Build a Wax Figure makes central the moral quandaries affecting their relationship. Love stories about age gaps - where men are involved - often objectify the young or make glamorous the notion that the naïve might be swept off their feet. Wax Figure abstains from these tropes. It doesn't swerve trickiness, nor does it particularly present any moral judgement on the characters and their choices outside of how they feel about it. This allows the audience to be swept up in the characters as bystanders to their intense emotions. To ponder the ethics privately, without their guidance, is a post-show activity.

Nell Barlow is incredible as Bea, performing the coming-of-age revelations of her character with exceptional nuance. She keeps the audience in the palm of her hand whilst remaining committed to the trance-like state that Bea's love story places her within. Olivia Dowd as Margot is confident and controlled. You get the sense that the character only exists within her studio, neurotic to a fault, but all the same, you understand the escapism that she and her little world offer. Alice Franziska's Dana provides comedy and balance, wrenching Bea (and the audience, actually) out of their excruciating stupor.

Expect romantic tension in spades, a stellar cast of women, and a queer tale of complexity and captivation.



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