Fringe review: Fruitcake – Ten Commandments From the Psych Ward, Rob Gee, Leicester, UK.
By Elizabeth Maupin
Sometimes the titles of Fringe shows say it all. Rob Gee has a title like that in Fruitcake, his solo show about the residents of psychiatric wards where he was a nurse in England, Scotland and Australia. Certainly many of the folks he dealt with were nutty as fruitcakes – the drinker who thought there were gangs of Asians in his back yard singing derogatory songs about his family, the drug users, the schizophrenics. But the title also gets at Gee’s attitude toward his patients – the humor-filled, even-tempered and compassionate way he seems to have dealt with people who were at the ends of their ropes.
You apparently see everything when you’re a psychiatric nurse, and Gee tells those stories (the most disturbing of which is about a man who cuts off his own hand). But what makes Fruitcake palatable is his sense of humor and also a wisdom that comes from having seen it all. “Normalcy’s a mirage,” he says, and “your instincts don’t lie – unless you’re paranoid.” With his lessons underlined by pronouncements from a God who has the voice of a Jamaican woman, Fruitcake will teach you plenty – but it also will persuade you that Gee must have been a wonderful nurse.
Remaining shows: 8:20 p.m. Sunday 5/23, 5:30 p.m. Monday 5/24, 10 p.m. Thursday 5/27, 2:20 p.m. Saturday 5/29, 1 p.m. Sunday 5/30. Green venue.