Claudia O'Doherty: Pioneer | Review by Steve Bennett
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Claudia O'Doherty: Pioneer

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Let no one say Claudia O’Doherty’s show lacks depth. She’s splashed out on state-of-the-art holographic projection technology to produce effects that knock Kraftwerk’s recent 3D concerts in to the shade.

But it’s OK, the cost is all being covered by the high-tech manufacturer who is sponsoring her, subtly credited in the title of the show. Of course it helps that Pioneer is not just a Kanagawa-headquartered consumer electronics conglomeration, but what O’Doherty strives to be within comedy, with a reputation for combining perky Aussie enthusiasm, a strong sense of the eccentric, and ambitious high-concept ideas into distinctive Fringe offerings.

Actually, the overarching theme of this one is rather more common than some of her previous shows. Indeed, adopting the ‘persona’ of a performer so very desperate to be discovered that normal social function and self-awareness breaks down has become something of an Edinburgh trope. Where do these comedians get their ideas?

Thus the fictionalised O’Doherty showcases her alleged talents with the subtlety of a landslide. She has a stable of characters to trot out, demonstrates her singing talents with a tribute to the Sydney suburb of Glebe, and introduces a narrative about her being visited by the ghosts of alternative Claudias, reflecting how her life would have turned out had she made different choices in life away from the righteous path of self-aggrandising showbusiness.

It may come as no surprise that what she trumpets does not match up to the awkwardly clunky routines that actually transpire. She always slaps a sweet smile on, apparently unaware how gauche her performance is, as if faith in herself is all she needs. Well, that IS the message every TV talent show promotes.

But while O’Doherty puts her own spin on the familiar artifice of a good performer pretending to be a weak one; that solitary central joke wears thin before the show takes its final-act twist. And it was actually the more straightforward, if surreal, stand-up before she got too deep into the deluded storyline that showed most flair.

There are some good gags here, but ultimately Pioneer is more a curiosity than it is funny.

Review date: 11 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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