Following on from wild online success last year, Mabel Thomas is bringing her show Sugar to a physical stage this coming EdFringe. Following the life of Mae as she enters the worlds of sexuality, work and becoming a Sugar Baby. We sat down for a pixelated pint with Mabel as the first week of Edinburgh Fringe dawns tomorrow! Check it out below.
Jake: Hey Mabel! We gave your online show five stars at last year’s EdFringe – how did that feel? How has all the hype about Sugar affected your process of turning the show into an in-person piece?
Mabel: It felt absolutely incredible. It made my month! I was working at a fried chicken shop last August (shout out McFly’s at Dockyard Social) so in between filling orders and serving food I was doing fringe admin/twitter and when it came up that I’d gotten a 5-star review from Binge Fringe I was so excited I told my coworker (who isn’t really into theatre but was appropriately psyched) and then went over to celebrate with some *sugar* and got an ice cream brownie combo to celebrate.
The positive audience and critical response to the digital version of Sugar is the main reason I felt like I could bring it back live. The fringe is a risky endeavor (both artistically and financially) but because I’d already been able to test the waters with the online version I felt more confident investing in a live show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still extremely nervous/excited/there are so many emotions I don’t really know what to feel, but I’m a sucker for external validation so good reviews are a fabulous morality boost going into Fringe 2022.
Jake: We see Mae, your character in the show, grow and change over time and learn to respond to the deeply troubling conditions that growing up offers in the modern world. How have you found portraying a character in that time and how do you think it reflects against your own time growing up?
Mabel: Mae, as a character, is close to an extension of myself. I mean, we’re not identical (after all I’ve had 23 years of character development and she only gets 50 minutes) but we share a lot of common ground. Mae’s younger ages are based on my childhood/experience growing up so it has been easy to find the truth in those scenes. I think the internet/the rapid developments in technology recently have completely changed what it means to grow up. The internet and the possibilities it has created are great in some ways, but as it’s a fairly unregulated place, there’s a lot of content on there that’s not good for a developing mind. With social media being so prevalent it feels like we’re always trying to be more grown up than they actually are. That illusion can lead people to getting themselves into things they’re not ready for. All of these factors contribute to how Mae develops and what she feels her options are.
Jake: Mae is quite an ambitious character, even from early on, and we see her discover her sexuality, the world of work (both shady and otherwise) and becoming a sugar baby. How do you want the audience to perceive ambition through Mae?
Mabel: My dream is that my audience will leave the show, go to a pub or somewhere with great food, and talk with each other about the show. I present a lot of ideas in the show that are morally ambiguous, ambition being one of them, and I’d love for the audience to have to work through how they feel about what they saw. I’d like the audience to discuss Mae’s ambition-driven-choices and the consequences she faces, and form their own opinion. I also want them to feel it was 50 minutes well spent and remember a couple of light-hearted or funny moments (after all, theatre is first and foremost meant to entertain).
Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Fringe season, what are you most excited for?
Mabel: I am so excited to perform for a live audience. Especially in shows with a lot of laughs, there’s a “live performance” aspect that you can’t really prepare for until you’ve got an audience. It’s been a while since I was onstage (thanks, Covid) so I’m really excited to feel that magic again. I’m also crazy excited to see other shows and meet some of the super talented artists bringing work to the fringe. In addition to all of the shows under the #FemiFringe and #QueerFringe hashtags, I’m especially psyched for:
by Isla Cowen @AssemblyFest
Downstairs-Assembly Roxy 1:50pm Aug 3-28 (not 15, 22)
Poles: The Science of Magnetic Attraction
by Millie Pitcher @ThePleasance
The Cellar-Pleasance Courtyard 2:10pm Aug 23-29
by Anna Krauze @ThePleasance
Bunker Three-Pleasance Courtyard 11:35am Aug 3-29
by Charlotte Anne Tilley @Gildedballoon
Snug, Patter Hoose, Gilded Balloon 1:40pm Aug 3-28
Dear Little Loz
by Lauren Nicole Mayes @theSpaceUK
Surgeons Hall Theatre 2, 12:00pm Aug 5-27
Sugar? (My EdFringe name buddies, but they’re sugar with a ?)
by Suspension Theatre @GreensideVenues
Greenside @ Nicholson Square, Fern Studio 6:40pm Aug 8-20
by Olivia McLeod @Gildedballoon
Snug, Gilded Balloon 9:40pm Aug 3-28
Jake: Fitting with the themes of our magazine, if your show was an alcoholic beverage (think cocktails, shots, beers, be creative!) what would it be?
Mabel: A blow pop martini! What is a blowpop martini, you might ask? Lemonade concentrate, bubblegum vodka, blue sourz and a lollipop plunked in it for a garnish.
Why it’s Sugar’s signature cocktail:
- Full of Sugar (seee what I did there? 40 grams per serving, here we come sugar high!).
- Basically a kids flavor.
- Comes in PINK!
- Is good.
- Seems innocent enough but when it hits, it hits.
Jake: And finally, why should potential audience members come see the show?
Mabel: Why you should come see Sugar:
- Mae’s a really fun person to spend just under an hour with.
- You’ll laugh, you’ll feel, you’ll like the pre/post show music.
- You will be entertained.
You can get a taste of Sugar between August 5th and 13th, 15th and 20th and 22nd and 29th. at 19:05 in TheSpace @ Surgeons Hall, Theatre 3. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Jake is a theatremaker and playwright interested in political theatre, new writing, comedy and international theatre. They have a particular interest in the post-Soviet space, Queer performance, British grassroots politics and Scottish new writing. They started their Fringe journey in 2018 and is an avid festival-goer. Their favourite drink is an IPA – no hops held back.
Festivals: Edinburgh Fringe (2018-2019, 2021-2022), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020)