Unstitching review – Edinburgh Festival Fringe ★★★★★

4 mins read


Our review of the compelling, intimate, and surreal Unstitching, at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Unstitching is chaotic, confusing, absurd, surreal. It’s also deeply heartfelt and open, honest to a point of despair.

Billed as ‘a comedy about yarn, chaos and Eurovision’, solo performer Ruby Shrimpton guides us through the inner workings of the mind of a version of herself.


We begin with facts about 1997, fired off at speed. Ruby switches from speaking through a microphone to projecting unamplified. In this way she breaks down the narrative journey of a story, and relates why she’s already failing to adhere to the rules within this piece of storytelling.

To ask what this show is about is to ask too direct a question. It’s about everything. Nothing. Something.

The something it is most about is the Eurovision Song Contest. Established in the aftermath of World War Two, the contest was devised to bring the people of war-torn Europe together, through television, and the medium of song. 

Ruby has a deep affection for the annual spectacular. She has facts, figures and dance movements to hand. She’s also a little bit worried that this show is a little bit crap.

We meander through the multiple strands of Ruby’s story – Eurovision, Ukraine, Liverpool, crochet patterns, yarn. At times the piece becomes intensely philosophical, asking how we connect with others – what it is that binds us together.

At other times, the piece is hilarious. You find yourself weirdly drawn into Ruby’s world, willing her to succeed.

Everything appears to be out of order. Or is it? You cannot make order out of life, just as you cannot make sense out of Eurovision. 

The language used takes us on a journey, occasionally reminiscent of Lear’s Nonsense Poems. The whole show is a poem of sorts.

Eurovision means songs, of course, and Ruby lip syncs her way through the most well known. 

As the story continues, Ruby slowly unravels, shedding yarn and layers as she goes. The show becomes about Ruby, and her desire for authentic connections. 

So strong is Shrimpton’s stagecraft that I genuinely could not tell if the disconnecting microphone was a technical problem, or a part of the show.

There’s an incredible moment around half-way through when we learn how Ruby would have opened this year’s Eurovision. If the contest ever returns to Liverpool, they should reach out to Ruby – this section is a heartfelt love letter to Liverpool, and its musical heritage.

After this she apologises, saying that should have been the ending. But the metatextual addresses to the audience have already told us how this story will end. There could have been no other way. 

Final Thoughts

This show has the complexity of an advanced level crochet pattern, and the heart of San Marino trying to advance to the grand final of Eurovision.

This is a beautiful, deep, joyful spell of a story which truly embodies the spirit of the Fringe. Douze points to Ruby Shrimpton and Unstitching.

Unstitching continues at the Edinburgh Fringe until 22nd August

Featured Image Credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe 

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