Brainchild of Jess Thom, who performs under the name Touretteshero, Backstage in Biscuitland is a challenging stage show featuring Thom and performer Jess Jones. The show is part lecture, part participatory activity, part puppet show, part singalong – the performance’s wild and shifting styles being a clear nod to the unpredictability of the neurological condition which Thom has lived with, particularly in its extreme form, since her early 20s.

Backstage in Biscuitland explores the particularities of Tourette’s Syndrome with a frank and humorous approach and feels miles away from disability or illness narratives which induce pity or words like ‘suffering’ or ‘brave’. Once the audience realises they truly can laugh with/at these tics which are the subject of so much public fascination, they can also open themselves up to Thom’s poignant and political reflections on inclusivity and the gutting true stories of Thom’s exclusion from a number of cultural spaces.

The most resounding feature of Backstage in Biscuitland is not Thom’s tics – although they are magnificent and fascinating to watch – but the relationship between Thom’s and co-performer Jones, which serves as a model for how one can live independently without living or working alone. With the recent closure of the Independent Living Fund and cuts to the  Access to Work scheme Thom’s engagement with her performance facilitator, and Thom’s and Jones’ seemingly genuine friendship resonates deeply – one doesn’t need to stand alone in order to be independent, and, in fact, independence is perhaps most beautifully demonstrated through effective partnership, exchange and a recognition of our capabilities and our limitations.  (BL) 

BACKSTAGE IN BISCUITLAND Touretteshero Pleasance Courtyard, Venue 33, August 24-30. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Hearing Loop, Audio Described, Relaxed Performances, BSL Interpretation available.

For more about Jess Thom and Touretteshero: