Pippa Evans: Same Same But Different | Review by Steve Bennett
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Pippa Evans: Same Same But Different

Review by Steve Bennett

Pippa Evans won an Olivier Award as part of improvised musical Showstoppers – ‘It still counts!’ she insists – and now she’s bringing some of that West End razzle-dazzle to a sweaty cave in Edinburgh.

Same Same But Different is a slick, well-packaged one-woman variety show – not to ignore the two musicians who back her – of songs, sketches and stories. There’s a mainstream, Radio Two-in-the-evening cabaret vibe, but what she might not have in edginess, she more than compensates for in talent.

Showmanship (can you have ‘showwomanship?’), seems to run in her blood. She envisages herself as a superannuated grande dame of cabaret, Lucille Broadway, proving that any song is improved when set to a swing beat, especially the National Anthem. And a piece de resistance she offers a brisk and expertly rendered pastiche of various West End musicals if they had been cast against type: and that includes having a certain tall, blonde musical improviser as Fagin.

An autobiographical thread runs through the hour, from the braces she had to wear as a child, via teenage sexual fumblings, to the auditions she goes to these days, always for the roles of ‘friendly mum’ or ‘angry lawyer’s wife’, apparently. She started life as a tomboy but was reprogrammed by the cult of Laura Ashley, and wonders if she might now be turning into he mother.

Such musings launch into sketches or songs, such as consideration of the ‘resting face’ of celebrities including Nigella Lawson prompted by her own facial manipulations. Not everything has to flow, though: apropros of very little, Evans does a perfect takedown of every BBC Three documentary Stacey Dooley has ever made, as well as conjuring up a peculiar scene envisaging Bear Grylls patching up the ozone layer with his bare hands.

Pragmatic positivity defines the songs, performed, like the comedy, with the relaxed skill of someone confident they’ve mastered their talents. ‘I won’t judge you’, she reassures, then does just that. Later she exhorts the audience to tell strangers and friends in the room: ‘You are amazing.’ It’s an uplifting sentiment, which she then turns on her self with a tongue-in-cheek sneakiness. Amazing’s a strong word (if eroded by lazy modern usage) but she’s pretty darned good, guaranteeing a good time whatever the demographic.

Review date: 25 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Bannermans

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