Suki Webster: Body-Part Double
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Following Best Man 2001, Suki returns as glamorous Hollywood body-part double Roxanne. Revelations, improvised wit, groovy hair. Featuring surprise star comedian guests
This bizarre show is a confusing mess of half-formed ideas that never seems entirely certain what it's trying to be.
At the start of the show Comedy Store improviser Suki Webster explains the concept: when she's in the chair stage left, she's herself, when she's stage right she's Roxanne Black, the name she uses in Hollywood as a body part double.
Fair enough, but she never leaves the 'Suki' chair. So this is her, as herself, right? Then why's she wearing a ridiculous curly wig and outrageous fluorescent, kaleidoscopically patterned hipsters? Surely this is a character? This is a sloppy set-up for any show, let alone one with a director who's supposed to notice these things. What's even more surprising is when that director is someone with the stature and talent of Paul Merton.
Webster goes on to tell us how her elegant hands have appeared in adverts for everything from washing powder to Benecol, and how that landed her work in Hollywood, encompassing some mildly amusing anecdotes from the edges of showbusiness.
Her fingers were in the Yellow Pages adverts, she provided Kate Winslet's hands in the shagging scene from Titanic and Carrie-Anne Moss's in the phone booth scene from The Matrix. When a genuinely interested punter asks why, she explains that Moss is missing part of one finger and cannot do close-ups. We're impressed at this snippet of showbusiness trivia.
But suspicion slowly falls on the veracity of her stories. Some are obvious flights of fancy, but by the midpoint it's certain that most, if not all, of the preceding tales have been a pack of lies, even those that were convincingly presented as genuine insights. The duplicity wouldn't matter one jot had the stories been in the least funny, but they just seem so pointless once you know the truth.
In fact, almost all the comedy of the show came from Andre Vincent, tonight's guest interviewer chosen from an ever-changing list of improvisers, whose bold, filthy cheek provided some quick badinage with a small child inappropriately seated in the front row.
But it's more than slightly worrying to know that Suki Webster's show would be a lot funnier without Suki Webster in it.
She does better in the improv routines, as you might expect, even though they are of the standard 'sketch in various film and theatre styles' variety that don't really stretch the talents. I know this is a collaborative game, but still it seems that Vincent was coming up with all the good lines.
To further prop up this weak hotch-potch of an hour, we get bad ventriloquism, tap-dancing and balloon modelling (as part of a skit about a magic show with only an assistant, no magician) which all smacks of desperation to throw anything vaguely entertaining into the mix in an attempt to find something that might possibly work. The bottom line is that very little of it does.