Review: Tea and Milk

Edith Alibec adeptly portrays a heartbroken and self-deprecating narrator navigating the challenges of adulthood and identity

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Tea and Milk, image courtesy of Sharon McHendry
Published 04 Aug 2023

Tea and Milk’s narrator is going through it: she’s newly heartbroken, stuck in a dead-end job, and is seemingly a perpetual disappointment to her mum. The one-woman-show shifts between the narrator’s home country and the UK, unpacking the complexities of a “foreign” identity, alongside all the other trials and tribulations of growing into adulthood. By the end of the hour, we have an undeniable fondness for this ever-failing yet every-trying woman and all her dry, cynical humour.

Writer and performer Edith Alibec holds the stage with a striking ease. Alibec truly embodies the character within the story – awkward dance moves and painfully exaggerated facial expressions – and she’s all the more endearing for this.

The narrative weaves itself almost effortlessly, folding back on itself and leaving us with a satisfying – and oftentimes poignant – clarity. Scenes cut from one to another quickly and urgently, and Alibec is very clearly in control of each shift. However, as such, some weightier topics in the second half fall slightly clumsy amid the many, many quips.

A great deal of the laughs are comfy crowd-pleasers: Tinder and high school reunions and shitty wellness products. It’s funny but it’s also perhaps a little too general and well-worn, too anonymous. And so, at times, there’s a sense of holding back, intimacy restrained for the sake of a broad appeal. But, that’s also kind of the point: Tea and Milk follows a character using comedy to detach herself – it’s fitting that such detachment carries through in this undoubtedly moving watch.