Emily Wilson: Fixed


Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath), Edinburgh

Emily Wilson’s Fixed is part musical, part stand-up and part catharsis. Clearly a born performer, Wilson takes us on a tour of her youth, from beaming toddler to broken teen. It’s all been chronicled, of course: she’s 26 years old, a whole lifetime of phone recordings and insta-chats and YouTube videos. Oh, and primetime national TV too.

That’s the crux of the story: Wilson appeared on The X Factor USA in 2011, as one half of the earnestly named duo, Ausem. “Because my best friend’s called Austin, and my name’s Emily, so together we’re Ausem!” She thought her dreams had come true: she was 15 and destined to become a star. But then they hit a snag. The judges decided they liked Austin, but not Emily…

Wilson’s tale, co-written and directed by Sam Blumenfeld, is compelling. She’s a vivacious, funny, talented woman – and, while she’s disarmingly self-deprecating, she’s justifiably pissed off. The X Factor nearly destroyed her. How is a child supposed to process such public humiliation? How do the powerful adults in charge legitimise hurting her for viewing figures, for more dollars in their bulging bank accounts? Do the haters on social media sleep well at night, knowing they’ve made a young girl cry?

The past is detailed via a series of video clips and diary entries, interspersed with stand-up and original songs revealing Wilson’s current perspective. What emerges is a thoughtful commentary on fame, ambition and exploitation, and it’s riveting.

Oh, and she really can sing. Whatever Nicole Sherzinger says.

4.6 stars

Susan Singfield


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