With a dramatic start, it's impossible to not be curious about what drove Mae to get herself in that situation. Sugar is a one-woman play that originated online, and is now being brought to the Edinburgh Fringe since being adapted for the stage. Mabel Thomas' storytelling delves into the act of self-exploitation to be successful, and asks questions about the morals surrounding this.
Talking directly to the audience, amid her room doused in pastel aesthetics, Mae begins at age 8, describing her school games, and childhood nemesis. From early on, her strong personality is evident in leading her into various acts of trouble as she grows up. As she gets older, her relatable spells keep coming as her 'phases' such as selling crafts at school are just one of many notions at this point in the show (the hierarchy of sittable objects is particularly agreeable). When 14 turns to 16, Mae starts to experiment with her identity, and a party leads to a queer awakening that causes some awkward lesbian spotting at the club.
By 18, her lighthearted and charismatic humour begins to fade, as she opens herself up to vulnerability. Although seeming to go well initially, the sacrifices in order to not have to work a minimum wage job become evermore risky and difficult to navigate. Mae's boundaries get blended, and soon she can't get out of the depths.
This gradual switch in tone is conducted well, yet still having that shock factor. Sugar feels like a conversation between you and Mae, where the direct and personal approach, along with several fleabag-esque camera cuts, ensure that you're connected to your newfound friend, and everything she is going through. Her enthusiastic lust for life being so infectious makes the downfall even more heartbreaking.
Witty dialogue, with some cracking lines in particular, proves that Mabel can narrate in an engaging way. The imaginary props in this version of the production just add to the reality of the colloquialism too. Sugar is a very relevant dark comedy piece, sighting the effects of manipulation when your body lands in the wrong hands.