FRINGE 2019: Why you need to see… Jacob Hawley
Who: Jacob Hawley
"In the same way that Jewish lads have bar mitzvahs and Catholics have confirmation, when you're young, white and working-class, you go to a European coastal town to drink purple cocktails from a bin and headbutt people in smoking areas..."
Jacob Hawley bounds on stage wearing t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. His show is called Faliraki, and his get-up is most definitely not weather appropriate for a stormy Edinburgh. In fact he looks like a fresh-faced young scamp on his way to the titular destination to 'ave it large'. If you didn't know him and weren't aware of what his show was about, you'd be forgiven for thinking it'd be wall-to-wall 'bantz'.
Hawley is acutely aware of how it all looks and apologises profusely for resembling 'that guy'. He clarifies that his stage outfit does actually serve a purpose - it allows him to display an array of tattoos adorning his body, from an intricate Hindu symbol in tribute to his mother's name, to a messy '1664' scrawled on his right leg, in tribute to Kronenbourg beer. He's evidently prouder of some than others.
For good or for bad, his body art documents various pivotal moments and influences in his life. Hawley is from a working-class background and certainly not ashamed of who he is. Which brings us to Faliraki. Ten years ago, at the age of 18, he and his pals ventured to the Greek holiday destination for a rites of passage trip. That's where, amongst all the booze and kebabs, Hawley fell in love for the first time.
Faliraki the show is a love story in two parts - or rather two love stories told in parallel. One turned out to be a doomed holiday fling, the other sounds very much like true love. Through a combination of the two, Hawley explores issues such a mental health and feminism in a way that is still taboo for men of his background and class. He does so with a punchy wit and quite brilliant skill for concise social commentary.
For instance his contention that the working classes are generally more consumed with the escapism of drink and drugs because "escapism is a necessity to the working classes, in the same way that it's a novelty to the middle-class" is as profound as it is simple, whilst his argument that society "celebrates the tortured artist, but ignores the tortured cleaner" is beautifully put. He also argues that men like his dad do more to live in a feminist way than some 'performative feminist' blokes he knows.
Hawley refers back to just last year, when he was at his very lowest ebb. His debut Fringe had driven him into debt, he was drinking everyday and taking class-A drugs, and he was forced to take work from a lad site for a cause he didn't believe in. But he found salvation in the love of Irish woman who had so much empathy in her heart that she couldn't even bear to see a pigeon suffer from sunstroke. This is as much a tribute to her as anything. Stay til the end for the most perfect homage.
You can buy tickets for Faliraki here.