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REVIEW: The Madwoman, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023

Updated: Jun 2

The Madwoman by The Miles Sisters

The Mad Woman

The Miles Sisters

Paradise in The Vault (Paradise Green)

August 2023


"France 1817. The French Revolution is over for all except one. Théroigne de Méricourt has stepped out of the revolution and into the asylum. Left unsupervised, she spends her final days crafting her life's great work, an opera about the revolution she never left behind. As the self-cast leading lady of her own imagination, Théroigne performs to an illusory audience and a standing ovation."

So sets the scene for The Madwoman by Texan sisters Cara Johnston and Courtney Miles.

Based in the vaults beneath Paradise in Augustine's church, a stone archway frames the stage and makes for the ideal, archaic asylum setting. It's an atmospheric space for a piece of theatre and it's dressed with 6 striking hand painted curtains that I know the sisters carried in their luggage all the way from Texas. The curtains are stunning and they're used to great effect throughout the production. So too a number of props and beautiful costume pieces make their way into Théroigne's 'cell', including a realistic straight jacket and a plethora of trinkets that Théroigne has 'borrowed' to help tell her stories. I can only imagine the girls had a hefty excess baggage charge on the flight over to Edinburgh.

But it's worth it, the staging really does help to set the scene and to add interest in the cold, stone vault. This personal care and attention is evident throughout the production: At the end Cara let us know that her mum had hand-stitched her exquisite dress. It's been a true family endeavour to bring this stylish show to life and you can feel the love from beginning to end.

Théroigne's story is told beautifully by writer / performer Cara, and although I'm no psychiatrist, I thought it was a poignant, authentic and heart-breaking portrayal of hysteria and psychosis.

Théroigne is frail but tough; she's living in a dream world that her mind has created to protect herself from the realities of her confinement. She has witnessed the upheaval of the French Revolution and been dealt some tough blows in life; her only escape is to perform on the stage. The audience become her audience. It's clever as well as amusing, and profoundly thought-provoking.

The staging and lighting are impressive in the small space, and the writing is concise yet complete. With 'The Madwoman' The Miles Sisters have produced a unique, touching study of one woman's madness that packs a delightful punch in under an hour.


The Madwoman, by the Miles sisters

When and Where?

Venue 29: Paradise in The Vault (Paradise Green)

Time: 14:00

7th - 27th August (not 13th & 20th)


About The Miles Sisters

Courtney and Cara have been creating art together their entire lives. After years of collaborating on each other's projects, they decided to start their own production company. Their inaugural play, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER AS PERFORMED BY THE QUEEN OF FRANCE AND HER FRIENDS, debuted at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2021.


PRODUCER | PRODUCTION DESIGNER Courtney is an artist with works ranging from large outdoor installations to custom murals and paintings in private luxury homes and educational institutions. She has taught art at both the college and high school levels. She received her BFA from Texas Christian University and MFA from the University of Dallas. Her favorite art is when she collaborates with her sister, Cara. Courtney lives in Dallas with her husband, Rick, and twins, Edie and Clyde.


PRODUCER | PLAYWRIGHT | PERFORMER Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Cara is an actor, playwright, and theatremaker currently based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she resides with her husband and pet rabbit. Favorite credits include Agnes of God, Bus Stop (River City Repertory Theatre), and Medea (Voices Found Repertory).


The Madwoman by The Miles Sisters - review, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023

🎟️ Disclosure: I am an Edinburgh Festival Fringe accredited media reviewer and as such I receive complimentary press tickets in exchange for my honest reviews. My reviews and star ratings are always my honest opinions.

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Lisa in the theatre, theater reviews, blog, Scotland, Scottish theatre


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