Tessa Coates: Get Your Tessa Coates, You’ve Pulled

21/08/22

Pleasance Courtyard (Beside), Edinburgh

Whether Tessa Coates really is as ditsy and posh as the persona she creates seems almost immaterial: I’m hooked. From the moment she stumbles onto the stage, all swishy hair and giggles, I’m completely disarmed. I like her. I’m not sure why. I don’t think we’d have much in common. But she’s so lively and engaging, it’s impossible not to warm to her.

Coates has, she tells us, recently been diagnosed with ADHD. “No,” she corrects herself. “Just ADD. Without the H.” Hmm. She might not be clinically hyperactive, but she’s certainly excitable. And very, very easily distracted. At least, the on-stage version is. If the real-life Tessa is the same, then I guess we have someone else to thank for organising this Fringe run, and getting her to the show on time.

I like the way Coates leans into and acknowledges her privilege, mocking her own pony-riding past, and likening herself to an Enid Blyton character. Even if it is Anne. “The shit one.”

The show itself is a fairly straightforward “here are some silly things I’ve done” affair, detailing the scrapes Coates has tumbled headlong into, mainly because she doesn’t think things through. She leads us through a series of minor calamities: from high school embarrassments to dressage problems; from awkward elevator moments in LA to the Brighton half-marathon. It’s all delivered in the same vibrant, upbeat, appealing way, as ludicrous-but-ace as the pink ride-on electric kids’ car that dominates the stage.

Coates bought it on impulse, not realising it’d be both too small and too big. “It’ll be fine,” she tells us.

And it is.

4 stars

Susan Singfield

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