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Fringe Review: OommoO ***

Michael Cox reviews a compelling one-woman show.

While many audiences are hypnotised by the prospect of seeing 5-star productions and famous faces, one of the real joys of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is discovering new talent. For that, it is highly recommended to see Lula Mebrahtu’s production OommoO.

What is presented is actually very similar to what many young artists perform: a theatrical exploration of personal themes and reflections. Mebrahtu dips into her family’s African heritage and finds a plethora of material—all interesting and populated by a cast of compelling individuals.

And there is no denying Mebrahtu’s skill in playing characters and expressing these themes. Every dramatic beat is interesting—and the use of Mi.Mu gloves allows her to tailor a rich soundscape into the dramatic moments she depicts with ease, and its immediate effect within the performance makes it all the more compelling.

The production of OommoO is elevated by Mebrahtu—she is a striking presence and has an aura about her that is easy to connect with. However, what is presented is dramaturgically messy—there are many great ideas but little clarity in the dramatic throughline of the piece.

What seems to be missing is a confidence in her skills. Mebrahtu comes across as very eager to please: she’s candid at the end about wanting the show to evolve and asks for feedback—feedback that she hopes to use in future performances and which might bleed into further chapters. Engagement with the audience in this way is commendable, but there is no way of pleasing all audiences, no matter how well intentioned.

For myself, I sincerely hope Mebrahtu finds her voice and confidence—she clearly has the goods, and I believe she has at least one five-star production inside of her. I hope she does return soon with a new piece—the potential of a stunning performance from this talent is evident from the start, and any performance of hers should not be missed.

OommoO performs at Summerhall at 4.15pm at part of the Eclipse series until August 27, 2023 (dark on the 14th and 21st).

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