Rachel Jackson: Bunny Boiler | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett
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Rachel Jackson: Bunny Boiler

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

The unhinged, psychotic stalker is a relatively common archetype among female comedians, but Scottish actor Rachel Jackson has made it her own.

She may have called her show Bunny Boiler, but she has a relationship with the monicker as on-off as her romantic relationships. While she insists ‘I’m fun mad, not lock-up-your-rabbit mad’, the intensity of her emotions suggests she can easily tip the other way.

And in her stage performance, she certainly perfects the unnerving, unblinking stare of the obsessed when she needs to – though she can turn it off just as easily and return to her default state of ditzy charm.

The hour is an episodic run-through of her ex-files, cataloguing many of the men she’s had broken relationships with: the emotionally distant, the Ukip voter, the cult leader, the fan who saw sought her out after seeing her acting on the BBC’s Scot Squad…

There’s an ambiguity about how much of this is true. The uncertainty is more than with most stand-ups as Jackson’s persona is so clearly exaggerated, and comes across slightly more as a performance than a traditional comic, a throwback to her background as an actor. And a theatrical flourish at the end has very little pretext of being ‘real’.

Yet, unlike most actors-turned-comedians, she doesn’t take sanctuary behind the fourth wall but engages freely with the audience. She’s highly attuned to our reaction, occasionally singling out people whose laughs belie the fact they recognise the situation she’s describing.

Her full-on personality is compelling. Jackson – the former face of Irn-Bru –  is, indeed ‘fun mad’, inducing an upbeat vibe to her late-night audience, while her acknowledgement of her weirdness combined with her general good spirits adds to her being engaging company.

The likeability that comes with such easy abandon covers a few missing pieces, as Jackson only hints at more emotional depths which would give the piece even more bite. Because for all her intensity in the pursuit of a partner, she seems as commitment-phobic as the guys she hooks up with. And what psychological damage causes her to seek out the most inappropriate men in the first place?

Also, she mentions the cult leader a lot – as well she might – but only skims over the story, saying that’s for another time, when she’s ready… which is frustrating, given the build-up it gets.

Bunny Boiler is not quite a McFleabag, but in its depiction of a woman acting self-destructively because of some deep character flaws, it’s in the same ballpark. And even if she keeps repeating the same mistakes in slightly different ways, we can all laugh at them now.

Review date: 4 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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