- Chris O'Rourke
Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Frigid
Rosa Bowden in Frigid. Image Joseph Murphy.
Nickelodeon meets HBO in Rosa Bowden's delightful comedy Frigid. A coming of age tale of 14 year old, Pride and Prejudice loving Niamh and her first ever kiss. Less Euphoria and more Never Have I Ever, Frigid's wholesome teenage romp leans heavily into cliched Disney tropes. Which Bowden dirty's up nicely with a little raw realism.
Being Ireland, the teenage tropes are rather less shiny. No mean girls here, strutting the malls like a coven of Kardashians. Rather we have Casey, Steph and Jen, three Crayola girls, with accents to match, looking to catch all the boys eyes. Nor are there house parties with gymnastic cheerleaders and good looking jocks with names like Hunter. Just a school-hall disco with a creepy, bad boy named Gizmo, and a wimpy, good guy called Graham. Peer pressured into going to the dance, will Niamh find herself transforming from geek queen to girl boss in true ugly ducking fashion? No prizes for guessing the answer. It's a tale that's been told a hundred million times already, but rarely has it been such a delight.
Set in 2007, Frigid offers a trip down memory lane for those of a certain age. Opening with a DJ playing Black Eyed Peas with such investment, you wonder if he's forgotten there's a show about to start? But start it does, Bowden taking to a stage littered with pink lip balloons, like a party for Billy No Friends where no one turned up. In no time Bowden has you eating out of her hand, serving up a one woman performance of utter charm playing a cast of thousands. Well, probably more like ten, but it's a hugely impressive ten, articulated, vocally and physically, with simplicity and detail. Under Hildegard Ryan's poppy direction, Bowden uses every inch of the stage as she demonstrates walking with BLTs (no, not the sandwich: bums, legs, tits), kissing techniques for virgins, and a litany of expressions that articulate her world and those who inhabit it.
Like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, shows like Frigid thrive or die on our connection to the central character. We already know the story, so it's the leads ability to draw you in and carry you along that decides its success. In that regard Frigid is an overwhelming success, leaving you wanting to hang with Niamh and wanting to know what happens afterwards. If Bowden's writing could be sharper in places, and if the sexual themes are a lot tamer than the title suggests, Bowden compensates with a strong, invested performance. Indeed, if they ever option Frigid as a TV series, the hilarious and versatile Bowden could easily carry it without any effort at all.
Frigid, by Rosa Bowden, presented by Bump and Grind Theatre Company, runs as part of Dublin Fringe Festival at Project Arts Centre until September 17.
For more information visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2022