Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Four stars

“How many of you have seen Sex and the City?” Judging from the response that bounces back at her opening gambit, Candace Bushnell knows her audience. This was the case too with Bushnell’s New York Times column and book that inspired Darren Star’s era defining TV adaptation that over the last quarter of a century set the template for every wannabe girl about town to try and step into her shoes.

Shoes are everywhere in Bushnell’s one-woman show. The stage is lined with a row of them, each pair in a spotlight to call their own and lined up like pretty maids in a row as if awaiting their mistress to give them a twirl.Prior to Bushnell’s entrance, a big screen mash up of Bushnell’s chat show introductions is somewhat surprisingly soundtracked by Leeds anarchist combo Chumbawamba’s 90s crossover smash hit, Tubthumping.

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This sets the scene for Bushnell’s entrance, a vision in scarlet who sashays her way through a living room set pinker than Barbie’s boudoir and lined with even more shoes that eventually give way to boxes of books, which, of course, she wrote, just as she performs the show on her own terms rather than hiring a Hollywood actress to play her.

What follows is a woman’s story that sees Bushnell breeze her way through 1970s New York, from sleeping on a mattress inbetween hanging out at Studio 5, to becoming an independent woman who puts a designer label gloss on hard won feminist principles.

Beyond the crowd-pleasing games of Real or Not Real and teasing tales of Mr Big, Bushnell’s second act is more reflective in its analysis of love and loss. It might not always be what the Sex and the City fans want to hear, but her true confessions go beyond kiss and tell to lay bare her warts and mid life reawakening to become a kind of purging. Those shoes may not always be comfortable, but Bushnell wears them with well-earned pride.