FRINGE 2019: Why you need to see… Desiree Burch
Who: Desiree Burch
What: Desiree's Coming Early!
“I see Donald Trump being held accountable for all of his crimes. It's not a hallucination, it's a vision...”
Desiree's Coming Early! starts during "the great dick drought of 2018", with Desiree Burch on a desperate hunt for some post-breakup post-#metoo action in Black Rock City, Nevada; it also starts at the turn of the twentieth century with French psychologist Alfred Binet inventing the first practical IQ test. What follows is an unforgettable journey that spans hallucination and reality, civil rights and sexuality, and the whole spectrum of ethics and morality.
In this horny, trippy, side-splitting odyssey for the ages, Burch experiences the mother of acid-fuelled existential crises whilst searching the deserts of Burning Man for spiritual enlightenment and dick. It's like Fearing and Loathing meets Groundhog Day meets Twin Peaks meets Alice in Wonderland - all to the soundtrack of Jefferson Airplane (and *maybe* some early Jackson Five). By the end, we learn that the real dick was inside you all along.
In describing her possibly true, probably hyper-realised experiences within the radial confines of the festival, Burch gives her peerless storytelling skills full reign, melding weird surrounds with even weirder subconscious. She stands alone on stage, barring a mic and occasional ring binder, and yet somehow paints a whole technicolour landscape around her through words alone. So animated and urgent is her performance that you wonder how she maintains it over a whole month.
As well as her LSD-enhanced adventures, Burch finds time to ruminate over such dilemmas as how to reconcile the impact of Michael Jackson's music with the whole being-a-massive-nonce business. Allowing yourself tenuous levels of plausible deniability by not watching damning documentaries seems to be part of the answer, as well as looking at where exactly in Jackson's discography his base behaviour began. Another section on the 'magical negro' trope is just as rich and raucous.
This glorious one-woman worm hole is routinely punctuated with very factual and poignant reflections on America's disgraceful history of eugenics and racial profiling. It is deftly handled and all the more powerful for the psychedelic escapade around it. The interludes act as reverse comic relief, keeping the whole thing grounded in a tangible reality. There is a particular anecdote about the pronunciation of 'candelabra' that starts off pithy but ends up profound.
In the end, both strands of this beguiling show come together beautifully. The Burning Man caper has a surprisingly meaningful conclusion, whilst the history of selective racism gains personal significance. The overall message seems to be, the only way to break a loop is to break the loop.
You can buy tickets for Desiree's Coming Early! here.