ED2022 Interviews ED2022 Theatre

Georgina Fairbanks: The Unicorn

By | Published on Wednesday 3 August 2022

As I’m always saying, we’re very fond of one person shows here at ThreeWeeks, and there are many at the Fringe, one of the numerous reasons that Edinburgh is such a lovely place to be at this time of year. 

One such show that caught my attention this time is ‘The Unicorn’, by Sam Potter, which tells the tale of a young woman who loses her job after making sexual harrassment allegations, and how she deals with the frustration and depression that ensues. 

To find out more about the show I spoke to star of it, Georgina Fairbanks.  

CM: Can you start by giving us an overview of the play? What story does it tell? 
GF: The audience drops in on Andrea’s life during a time of peak chaos. She has recently been fired from her job after making a sexual harassment complaint and is looking for a way to exorcise her feelings of frustration and depression.

She turns to Tinder and begins to discover she can quiet the noise in her own head by engaging in casual sex. However, what begins as harmless fun starts to get out of control and she’s forced to deal with the real issues that drive her increasingly reckless behaviour.

Although the piece explores some hard hitting topics, there is a lot of lightness in there too, Andrea is a lot of fun to play and – hopefully! – watch. 

CM: Do you relate to the character you are playing? How similar are you and Andrea in real life?
GF: ‘The Unicorn’ is very much a play, and Andrea is an entirely fictional character born in the imagination of our awesome writer, Sam Potter. 

From the beginning we wanted this to be and feel like a play – rather than stand-up or an autobiographical piece – so, as with any other script I’d pick up, I have had to stretch to meet the character. Having said that, I definitely do see similarities between the two of us and have undoubtedly brought aspects of myself to the role. 

Maybe not so much now, but there have been times in my life when I’ve felt lost, like she is, desperately looking for a way to break through the surface of grief. I like her resilience and determination, she’s not a victim. She moves at 100 miles an hour and tends to shoot from the hip, which I can relate to.

Oh, and we are both from Essex!

CM: The play addresses a number of somewhat taboo subjects including female sexuality, grief and addiction. Why do you think tackling these themes is important?
GF: Honestly I think if we managed to remove some of the stigma around sexuality we enforce as a society we would all live much freer happier lives.

Andrea says “I don’t think sex is anything to be ashamed of” and that’s a great message. A healthy, fulfilling sex life is a fundamental part of overall wellness….

Grief is a big one. It so often underpins addiction and is extremely hard to work through. The more we normalise these ‘taboos’ the less weight we’ll all carry around.

CM: What’s the reaction to ‘The Unicorn’ been like so far from people who have seen the play? 
GF: Great! We’ve done three previews so far and got great responses from audiences. They seem to all enjoy the fast pace and react really well to all the different characters Andrea meets along the way. 

CM: What’s it like performing the whole show by yourself? How does rehearsing a one-person show compare to rehearsing with a cast?
GF: It’s much harder! It’s an extremely challenging piece, I’ve been in constant stretch – which is rewarding but tiring!

The main difference is I don’t have anyone else to bounce off, I have to entirely own the pace and energy shifts which is very demanding. It’s also a pretty physical show, so I’ve had to get my fitness levels up over the past couple of months.

I’m working with an incredible director, Anthony Greyley, who has so much vision and passion for this play. He keeps me on my toes and doesn’t shy away from challenge. So whilst it’s been exhausting at times, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an actor.

CM: Have you been to the Fringe before? What are you expecting? And what are you most looking forward to?
GF: I have been to the Fringe once before but never performed there. I’m looking forward to the discipline of a month-long run, getting into a good routine and being a full time actor for a month! That in itself is a privilege. I’m excited to network and meet more creatives, and will hopefully meet some new friends along the way. 

CM: Has anyone told you any Fringe horror stories?
GF: None bad enough that they’ve scared me away!

CM: What will you be doing when you are not performing? Are there any other shows you’re excited about seeing?
GF: Yes! I can’t wait to see what other companies are doing. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing ‘Manic Street Creature’ written and performed by Maimuna Memon, who is an incredibly talented actor-musician.

Also ‘Ruckus’, which is another one woman show produced by Wildcard Theatre, written and performed by Jenna Fincken. I love the work Wildcard are putting on, they usually go more towards gig theatre and actor-musos, so I’m really intrigued to see what they do with Jenna’s piece.

I’ll also be catching ‘Fat Chance’. I don’t know anything about it but I keep seeing it pop up and look forward to seeing how it tackles a really relevant and important topic.

CM: Did you always know you wanted to act?
GF: Yes. It’s my happy place.

CM: What hopes do you have for the future? What do you want to be doing in five years time?
GF: I want to be doing good work. 

CM: What’s coming up next for you, after the Fringe?
GF: ‘The Unicorn’ is embarking on a UK tour and then I’ll hopefully manage to take a bit of time off and fit in a honeymoon!

‘The Unicorn’ was performed at Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Festival 2022.

LINKS: twitter.com/georgiefairb 

Photo: Michael Shelford