With only four shows left of a limited run, Nicoletta Wylde’s genuinely creepy debut Fringe show Afraid of the Dark is worth the walk. A semi-autobiographical tale about living with night terrors, Nicoletta manages to bring a sense of urgency and authenticity to her performance – you don’t doubt that this is a subject close to her heart.
The backdrop of a therapist’s office works well to ground the often grandiose lyricism of her spoken word. While the performance could have benefited from a lighting director, her sound editing is spot on and the voice-actor playing her therapist manages be patronising, while also subtlety gaslighting and triggering Nicoletta’s character in a very believable way.
“There’s this knowledge that it sees you. Hears you. Knows you more intimately than you will ever know yourself,” Nicoletta says at one point, describing how it feels to realise your cat is watching you have sex. While this could be a moment of humour she somehow imbues it with a deep sense of eldritch horror.
There’s a content warning on the flyer for “references to childhood sexual abuse”, and it’s true that much of this might be a little close to home for some people, but Nicoletta navigates the subject matter with care as well as emphasising the importance of having a professional to talk to. At one point she talks about being in and out of therapy her whole life, saying; “I’m probably fine without but, it’s nice to know I have someone to talk to and with this… well, it’s not like it’s something you can just bring up, in conversation.”
While the show feels like an early draft of what could be a really powerful play, all the essential elements are here. Please give her all the support you can so that she can return next year with a bigger budget and give this show the production values it deserves.
Words: Ana Hine
Nicoletta Wylde Is Afraid of the Dark
Laughing Horse @ The Mockingbird, 72-74 Newington Road, EH9 1QN
Aug 5-8, 22:15, FREE