Alice Fraser can be described as ambitious, unpredictable, cerebral. I mean, she was a lawyer before going comic full-time, after all. Quantum mechanics. Disney villains. Multiple Sclerocis. These seemingly mismatched and possibly clunky topics weave seamlessly into the tapestry that is Empire . This show isn’t one for the constant belly laugh, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that the audience isn’t awed.
Is it comedy? Undoubtedly, yes. But Alice’s work brings in more than a laugh or a cheeky punchline. When I first saw Fraser, I had meandered my way into The Three Sisters during the 2015 Fringe, probably to escape the rain and fill time in between shows already booked. I sat down at a show called Savage and it was one of those treasured Fringe moments where a serendipitous drop-in becomes a life-changer. Savage dealt with her late mother’s battle with MS; a show that made you laugh and shiver, smile and cry. I was pleased, then, to discover that this 2017 show exceeded my expectations and proved that Fraser is clearly not in short supply of dynamic cleverness with Empire .
Where Savage talks mainly about her mother and how precious time is, Empire , a sort of companion piece, feels as if it’s about her father and how things are often much more than what they seem.
Alice Fraser is a powerhouse and a purposeful, thoughtful artist. At first glance, this show seems to be a collection of tangents-- but in the end you see how her bits of writing, her little stories perfectly dovetail to create something so much more than that.