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  • Phoebe Robertson

Review: Exes and Nos

Words by: Phoebe Robertson (she/her)

Picture Credit: Crooked Love Productions

Editor's Note: For the full experience, we recommend reading these reviews together as a double feature. First up is Hadley Wilson's "No Hetero," followed by Rachael Mercer's "Exes and No's." We will also discuss how these two shows complement each other, because when presented with a double feature, why not have a double feature review?

Rachael Mercer has been in the dating game for as long as I've been alive, so when she invited me to the Fringe Festival preview of her solo show, "Exes and No's," I couldn't pass up the opportunity. From the moment she took the stage, Mercer was in control, fueling her opening tactic of aggressively flirting with the audience.

A punching dummy, akin to those used at the gym, was cleverly incorporated into the show to represent the numerous men she would go on to sing about. This prop not only provided comedic relief but also added depth as she adorned it with wigs, covered it with a sheet to create a ghostly effect, and seamlessly integrated it into her performance.

Despite beginning with a stereotypical portrayal—an openly pansexual comedian armed with a ukulele—Mercer managed to win over the crowd with her quick-witted humor. The performance featured excellent wordplay, with a recurring theme in both shows centered around embracing a liberated and unabashed attitude towards relationships.

Mercer’s voice started a bit shaky, facing vocal challenges due to noise interference from nearby bars playing loud music. However, she quickly regained her composure and her vocals grew stronger as the show went on, displaying her impressive singing skills.

The format of discussing an ex-partner followed by a song, alternating between more serious monologues and discussions about past relationships, provided a well-balanced structure. Mercer openly shared her preference for the Hinge dating app which added a personal touch; however, I couldn't help but judge her choice considering how that app has brought me nothing but problems. Stepehen disagreed with me though, he's currently dating someone he met on that app. 

The performance was a unique blend of comedy, music, and poignant moments, creating a truly multifaceted experience for the audience. Mercer's songs were filled with humor and her physical presence as an actor only added to the authenticity of her performance. A standout moment was when she shared her experience with the #freethenipplemovement, adding a bold and unforgettable element to the show.

Nearing the end of the performance, Mercer surprised the audience with a twist in her relationship status, challenging the persona she had previously portrayed. Yet, instead of feeling betrayed, the audience celebrated her newfound happiness because they were fully immersed in her world. Her songs about long-distance relationships and personal struggles struck a chord with many, including myself.

Both shows centered around the theme of sex-positivity. While Hadley Wilson's No Hetero showcased her journey towards self-confidence, it wasn't until Rachael Mercer's heartfelt monologues that I realized she also struggled with this concept. This duality between the two performers was perfectly complementary for the double billing. Surprisingly, it wasn't the frequent costume changes or pesky remote batteries that proved most challenging for these performers; it was simply taking the microphone on and off its stand. And you know what? I can definitely relate to that.


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