Thursday, September 28

Topless: The One Woman Musical – Open Top Deck at Big Bus Betty

Who doesn’t love an open top bus tour? Maybe not of the wrong city (yes, this bus tour is of London from the comfort of Edinburgh!), but for this show it’s not the site seeing that takes precedent rather the emotional roller coaster in which your guide is going to take you on. Your tour guide Sandie is sure to show you why it’s best not to mix business with your personal life in this one woman musical.

Based off the original play Topless by Miles Trednnick (my favourite play and worth a read alone) this dark comedy shows Sandie a tour guide with a messy relationship history as she tells her unsuspecting tourists just how she dealt with her cheating husband, but unlike the previous play back in 1999 she does some of it through song.

Set in the very intimate setting of an old open top bus Sandie (Holly Loveday) isn’t like other tour guides as she throws herself across the bus and into your face.  Loveday embodies the role perfectly, creating this wonderfully charismatic and funny character that becomes incredibly unhinged quickly, snapping in and out of the complicated bounds of her relationship and the wonderful city sites of London. To upkeep the energy of an audience alone for over an hour is a difficult feat, especially when surrounded by a busy city and some very noisy passing buses, but she had the whole audience’s attention from start to finish.  The character was approachable, real and importantly flawed.

As for the musical element of the show, I would describe it as less a musical and more a play with songs. The content of the script matches that of the original play with a few songs added here and there, remove the songs and you still have the original script and no different a show. As a massive fan of the original scripting I can’t say the songs where in any way needed and if anything broke up the energy of the performance, taking away some of the emotion and tension. This is a brilliantly witty dark comedy that shines alone without needing any extra sing songs, regardless of how lovely Loveday’s singing may have been.

I overall enjoyed this show very much and would highly recommend anyone to add this to their Fringe schedule. Not only are you getting a show on a bus, but a great hour of entertainment brought to you by a very talented and energetic young actress. Just remember to wrap up warm as the bus really is topless.

Running time: 1hr 10 Mins

Topless runs from 04th August until the 28th August at 14:00 (excluding 9th,10th,14th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd) and 18: 00 (excluding 9th,14th, 21st, 22nd, 27th).

Buy tickets at

Reviewer: Beth Eltringham

Reviewed: 4th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.