Yoga With Jillian



Having just embarked on my own yoga journey I thought what better way to help me further my practice? This one-woman-show is sharp, hilarious, slick and excellently written. I was belly-laughing, as well as indulging in soul-searching.

Michelle Biancasino is marvellous as Jillian, a yoga instructor who will do just about anything to find her Zen. She’s beautifully sarcastic, with striking comedic timing and audience adaptability. Until recently, she worked at a top law firm, lived in a perfect apartment, had friends but was desperately unhappy. After one yoga retreat, and then another, and another nothing really changed deep down she tell us. But Jillian is doing really ‘well’ at surface level. Wellness culture has served her really, well, well. Her colon is toxin free, which is a huge achievement.

Her mind? Not so much. When she began her instructing career – her Chakra-led vocation – Covid-19 hit hard, and she lost everything. She couldn’t find sustainable work, her health deteriorated, and she continued a battle with Long Covid. That symptomatic brain-fog provides hilarious gags, though, and the online yoga class she hosts throughout isn’t without chaos.

Playwright Lia Romeo has approached existentialism with a new wit and refreshing force. We watch Jillian unravel before us, whilst teaching a yoga class made of real audience members. I sat smug, watching them plank for the whole of one of Jillian’s emotional tirades as she forgets to instruct them on their next move. They’re sweating and we’re giggling away. Jillian’s story grows darker as the piece progresses, and becomes an Everyman tale of the pandemic struggle. Lives lost, finances destroyed, economic crisis, careers thrown away – these have been the devastating outcomes for so many of us. But there’s this weighted quilt of rhetoric smothering us, telling us that if we cleanse and breathe and consume and stretch our way to inner peace, all will be solved. It’s not the case Ms Paltrow: we’ve cottoned on to the con.

Biancasino is hilarious and watchable, devouring Romeo’s script with vigour. It’s a cohesive, meta, symbolic and layered show that will leave you feeling pretty introspective. It’s a brilliant piece and I urge you to catch it. We need to reflect on those Covid years and delve into what we need to fix. Sometimes celery juice just isn’t the answer.

Until August 28

Grace Sansom is working with The Herald for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's prestigious Emerging Critics Scheme