Jessica Butcher's new show Sparks tackles how the brain processes the full range of emotions - a tender marraige of speech and song. Jonathan Penney reviews:

The brain is an immensely complex part of the human body, processing the full range of emotions through a lifetime. Sparks is a new play that explores the brain’s response to grief or loss, love or fantasy.

The protagonist is split into two aspects. Jessica Butcher expresses emotion of the character through speech, whereas Anoushka Lucas manages the musicality of the performance. Having separates roles within the same character is a fascinating direction to take, differentiating how emotion is brought to the audience’s attention. The two fit perfectly to paint a clearer picture of what the character is feeling at a specific time – grief and sadness are met with a somber tone, whereas a more upbeat and joyful mood is attained from those moments when the main character is feeling happy with her new lover.

The two actresses confide in the audience at crucial moments in her life, creating an immediate bond. Dates, arguments, grief and breakups, along with their inevitable backlashes, all unfold. Many questions are asked – most may seem pointless and random, but this is a deflection from the one true answer that the character really needs to hear.

How do you let go?

The audience watches the journey unfold as the protagonist learns to deal with the outcome.

Sparks is a well-written play that engages the audience, realistic and emotional yet still highly amusing. Butcher has truly captured the importance of this play in its real-life implications of how one may tackle the rollercoaster of emotions. It resonates throughout the audience – a riveting watch.




Sparks runs at Pleasance Courtyard as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 until 26 August 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.