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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Rosie Wilkinson What's Wrong?
New character comedy. Discover what's wrong with Rosie, with you and with everyone else.
There's a lot of well-crafted, finely-observed character comedy on the Fringe, but sadly Rosie Wilkinson, for the most part, doesn't fall into that category.
Her creations seem to be based more upon the accents she can do, rather than offering an insight into the lives of the people she's depicting.
The theme of the show is simply 'things that are wrong', but since that's pretty much all comedy, it's hardly that restricting although it does provide the excuse to use a children's book to give a strong, fun visual thread in the pauses between monologues.
Her characters include a menopausal divorcee who goes clubbing to ward off depression, a vague middle-class woman feigning spirituality through the latest trends and a foreign language teacher who witters on about her labia and clitoris in French.
For the most part Wilkinson seems to be describing her characters, rather than understanding them. The upshot is that they are too shallow to hold the attention, let alone being saddled with a script that provides few opportunities for laughs.
There's a hint of redemption towards the end, however, when she unveils a couple of more surreal characters. Because they are not grounded in reality, the shortcomings in fleshing them out are less important.
So the Anne Robinson-style teacher trainer who starts exhibiting bizarre feline tendencies or the shy interviewee devastated by nerves are much easier to accept as simply odd characters, even if we still can't get to grips with their inner workings.
I personally enjoyed the show, i like the odd little characters and they way she didn't flesh them out was a change from the characters in other comedy shows.
I first saw this show in the form of a try-out gig at a packed Canal Cafe Theatre back in London. From the very first moments of that show it was clear that all present were witnessing a truly remarkable performer playing at the very top of her game. I don't think I have ever laughed so much at a show - out of sheer delight at the perfection of the nuanced characters as much as the jokes (of which there were many). I was eager to see whether the Edinburgh show would maintain such a standard and was not disappointed. Wilkinson's virtuosity is not the point - what makes her the most talented performer of her generation is the level of observation and the sheer humanity of her characterisations. She really deserves a wider exposure and will clearly get it sooner rather than later. For now, though, I can rejoice in being one of the lucky few who saw her 'when she was nothing'...