by Diana Miranda
Song-based storytelling with cheeky humour at its core, 100% Cotton: In a Spin captures snapshots of Liz Cotton’s life as an empty nester in a small village. The solo show unravels within a kaleidoscope of acoustic music, video delights, and storytelling sequences that smoothly interweave as she glorifies her lovely cat and parodies lockdown life with a suffocating husband.
Throughout the first half of the show, she gets audiences on board by making them complicit in the small details that define her. These range from an absolute love for the colour green and the Duke in Bridgerton, to her affinity for using a guitar and good sense of humour to write songs inspired by daily life. The latter is a tool that will prove to come in handy to cope with the things she doesn’t love. Cotton is an effortless storyteller with a gift for comedic compositions. Her songs are as funny as they are clever. She performs them with a playful gaze and charming smile, feigning naivety with amusing effects.
After narrating endeavours encompassing her children’s departure to college and COVID lockdowns, the plot takes a seamless twist as she recounts the unexpected reception of a flyer outlining the plans to build an utterly unnecessary sewage plant in the neighbourhood. She narrates the shady, nitty gritty of a billion-pound private water company, and, as such, the show unveils its true core: Cotton’s refusal to take that crap. She thus embarks on a performative call-out that exposes that stinky threat and supports a small community in its fight against environmental and residential chaos.
100% Cotton: In a Spin is a reminder of how the private becomes political. Light-hearted tunes paired up with witty audiovisuals inform and strengthen the show, but this doesn’t detract one bit from the seriousness of the matter. The clever use of a small stage with polished movement infuses the story with warm liveliness, exploiting the venue’s intimacy to elevate a wholehearted message of solidarity through laughter and song.
In addition to Cotton’s gift as a comedic musician, this show’s greatest asset is its celebration of community as it embraces the power of songwriting to cultivate connection across boundaries – Cambridge, Edinburgh and undoubtedly beyond.
100% Cotton: In a Spin ran through 28 August.
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