We all have our coping mechanisms. Maybe you practice yoga and meditation, have a cup of tea and inhale a packet of biscuits, or you just take some deep calming breathes. When Eva’s feeling the madness in her bones stir, her mind turns to mustard. When her heart is run over again and again by a professional cyclist she meets in a club, who would rather hunch over his one-true feather-light love (the bike) than commit to another human, it’s that hot, sharp, yellow sting that’s keeping her alive.

“Eva O’Connor is a performer who doesn’t just warrant your attention, she demands it”

Eva O’Connor is a performer who doesn’t just warrant your attention, she demands it. The performance is raw and the words poetic, laced with delicious obscenities and almost spat out in a hot, angry rush. As her mind continues to turn to mustard and you can almost see the flash of yellow in her eyes. Her jaw is set tight, but her tongue is loose and she’s not afraid to hold eye contact.

 

The Bruford space at Summerhall, Edinburgh, is wide and sparse, and for about 30 of her 55 minutes of stage time, O’Connor is setting it carefully for the inevitable colonisation of the Colman’s (as well as Aldi’s finest – just 98p a jar). Each everyday item is laid with care and attention but no explanation, as her story spills out. Like her recovery, the laying out of these items methodically is a process she must go through. Then the clean-up operation must begin. It might have given a greater sense of finality to see this cleaning process executed in full, to see every spot of yellow removed from the space.

 

Even the lighting is harsh and yellow-tinted, a constant reminder of her love-hate relationship with the peril-coloured condiment. At points her shadow looms large on the yellow-light tinted walls.

“the lengths we will go to in order to rid ourselves of feeling the stings and searing pains of lifE”

Mustard stings and sears the skin, and Eva must find another way to cleanse herself of the pain she has experienced. Ultimately, ‘Mustard’ explores the lengths we will go to in order to rid ourselves of feeling the stings and searing pains of life. Whatever we do, we must all cope.

2-11 August: Tickets: https://festival19.summerhall.co.uk/event/mustard/

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