It wasn’t hard to pick out actress Gael Le Cornec in a crowded coffee house. You see, only one young woman with enviable Brazilian features was grabbing a late lunch while simultaneously reading a script. On closer inspection, the script in question was indeed for Gael’s latest production Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida, a one-woman show which arrives at the Trestle Arts Base on Friday, bringing with it rave reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Telling me about the birth of the show which led The Stage to name her a “rising star”, Gael, who can also boast French heritage on her father’s side, explains with an exotic lilt: “I had a meeting with Luis (Benkard) the director in this very coffee house two years ago. He said: ‘I want to give you a script and see what you think about it.’ And that was it, I loved it!”

Written by Humberto Robles, Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida offers an whirlwind insight into the life of the celebrated Mexican artist, who endured more than her fair share of human suffering, but who captured the world’s imagination with her expressive self-portraits.

Living her life in near enough constant pain as the result of a traffic accident which left her with a catalogue of injuries (and which possibly accounted for a number of miscarriages in later life), Frida died aged just 47 in 1954. Some have argued she committed suicide, however her husband, the painter Diego Rivera strongly denied this.

Interestingly, it is Frida’s pain which Gael, who travelled to Frida’s ‘Blue’ house in Coyoacán, Mexico City, in preparation for this role, can relate to.

“Every character I try to portray I search for comparisons. What is similar and what can I bring from my own experience?

“There is a scene in the play when I show some X-rays, and it’s my own X-rays. When I tell people it’s my back, they are shocked because it is so twisted. I have had double escoliosis since I was a child, so I tend to have quite a lot of pain in my back when I am stressed and under pressure. But, of course, it’s not comparable with the pain Frida went through, that was unbelievable.”

Along with her physical suffering, Frida also suffered a lot of psychological pain, notably she felt the pain of her people during the Mexican revolution, but her tumultuous marriage to Diego was also fraught with betrayal and hurt, particularly when Diego had an affair with Frida’s sister Cristina.

There is no denying that Frida used her talent for cathartic purposes. However, Gael, who moved to London from her home in Belém, a city on the banks of the Amazon River, when she was just 19 years old after completing a BA in biology, believes her art can be the cause of many common misconceptions.

“People tend to think because she portrays her pain in her work she was very miserable and she hated life and she was always suffering,” the twenty-something star tells me.

“Actually it’s quite the opposite. She would hide her pain by locking herself in her studio and painting. She always wanted to be centre of attention and laughing, singing and getting drunk. She had a joy about life, that’s why the show is called Vida la Vida, it’s about overcoming all the difficulties and surviving and living it in full and she did that.”

Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida arrives at the Trestle Arts Base on Friday, February 13, 7.30pm. Details: 01727 850950 or