Edinburgh Fringe Review 2019 – Jonny Pelham, Off Limits, Just The Tonic

Jonny Pelham was just eight years old when he was abused. He was raped, repeatedly, by a male babysitter who was a family friend.

The comic has decided to make this the beginning of his show – rather than a reveal which appears towards the end.

Instead he delves into the effect the abuse has had on him – and his efforts to put himself back together again.

He discovers that his ability to lose himself in long complex daydreams is not at all healthy. And he realises that his struggle to take care of himself and to become fully involved in sex and relationships is all a consequence of his abuse.

This is a show all about healing. And Pelham explains very clearly why people who are abused as children can take years and years to reveal what has happened to them.

He has arrested development. Part of him has become stuck at eight years old and now, as an adult man he must try to reclaim that part of himself that is lost.

We cry, as Pelham learns finally to cry about what happens to his eight year old self. And our hearts soar when we discover that he is now in love and learning to rebuild himself with the help of a wonderful woman.

Pelham tells his story with astonishing emotional honesty and with an appealing lightness of touch. But he hasn’t quite managed to transform his history into satisfying comedy.

He’s still healing. Still putting himself back together. And it may be that now this huge secret burden is gone it will help him find his voice. 

I’m glad he’s doing this. It may help other people and I hope it continues to help him. It makes me really keen to see whatever he is going to do next.

Jonny Pelham: Off Limits, Just The Tonic, until Aug 25. Details here.

Read more Edinburgh Fringe reviews here.

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