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Ruth Pickett: An Endless Series of Distractions
Ryan Paulson in Pentecostal Wisconsin
Ruth Pickett: An Endless Series of Distractions
Jennifer lives alone, with her possibly imaginary, film-obsessed cat. Her only contact with the world comes from strange messages on her answerphone and bags of junk dumped outside her charity shop. Ruth Pickett's debut solo show is a hilarious trip inside the mind of an unusual and extremely funny girl
The main character Ruth Pickett plays in her Fringe debut is a delicate, detached and dreamy spinster who runs an unsuccessful charity show with only her obsessive-compulsive cat Bobbins for company.
The stage is thus littered with the store's useless stock, a haphazard collection of ephemeral trinkets out of their time: polkadot teapots, plastic cactuses, decorative sombreros, obscure albums with titles like Mrs Mills's Party bizarre mementoes all of the minutiae of life.
It's an apt setting, because An Endless Series Of Distractions, named after Pickett's ida of what life is, is comedy bric-a-brac too: a ramshackle collection of all sorts of random items - quirky, unusual, and appealing to a very specific taste.
Many people will very possibly be left cold by this faux-innocent brand of wide-eyed whimsy, but if it's distinctive, ethereal comedy you're after, Pickett delivers. For this is a charmingly sweet hour, enchanting, endearing and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.
The junk shop, Past Caring, is at the centre of a small, isolated world where everything is interconnected, like a more benign Royston Vasey. In it live such oddballs as Alan, the voyeuristic, lonely, awkward misfit with an unrequited crush on store manager Jennifer; bearded folk singer Tommy Leghorn, Lionel Richie-obsessed supermarket lurker Don Swisher, and Mrs Bunn, whose 'entertainment extravaganza' comprises a series of poor-quality animal impressions.
We meet them all over the course of a week, during which Pickett's Jennifer relates various surreal anecdotes, beautifully sings graceful tributes to Hoovers and fictional corporate cleaning-product mascots and paints a rich picture of this well-imagined world.
Peppering this are some very good jokes, and some truly bad ones proving something of a letdown given the skill with which the show as a whole is constructed plus a rather unfortunate scatological seam of humour which is thankfully more juvenile than sick.
But this is a show that's more than the sum of its part, thanks to the rich, unique atmosphere Pickett creates in which to showcase her impressive performing talents.
I'm really surprised by the Jeremy Clarkson style invective from a couple of previous reviewers. Pickett might provide a style of comedy that isn't to everyone's taste, but I can't see how anyone would find it so upsetting! I don't think she was trying to be Bill Hicks but took a wrong turning - I'm pretty sure she was trying to do a whimsical fantasy world where she played all the characters with touches of sadness and touches of madness. I'd say she got it right, to be honest. I was pleasantly surprised.
God what an awful show.
Brilliant fun. Hilarious trip through a world of crazy characters and occasionally touching drama. It really works well. I've got to say that its a well written show (which isn't always the case for plays/comedies in my Edinburgh experience). Ruth is a very good actress. She seemed natural and believable on stage and I am quite frankly shocked that this is her debut solo show. The amount of thought and effort that has gone into this is quite amazing: You get a well designed leaflet that coincides with the play (and is also very funny) and her website - which I went on before watching is vast and detailed and adds to the whole experience in my view. She's young, talented, beautiful: I think this girl might be one to watch. I would give this the highest mark available. And that, people of Edinburgh - trust me - does not happen often