Isabel Fay: Altar Ego
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Isabel will take you up the aisle with a trio of darling characters (well one’s a bit of a tit actually)
Isabel Fay is just one of any number of talented comic actresses plying her wares in Edinburgh. What puts her firmly among the better ones is that her sense of comedy is as strong as her thespian skills.
Basically, she knows how to tell a satisfying story, with characters that are more than two-dimensional grotesques. Whereas many people try to cram in as many different scenes into their show to illustrate their versatility, Alter Ego features just three – and one of them takes a good half hour on her own.
The trio are brought together at a wedding. First, me meet the event planner, a slutty, hard-drinking Australian who tales us of her hedonistic escapades with mates who have nicknames like ‘Pisspot’. This is the simplest character of the lot, but her monologue is enlived with some splendid antipodean euphemisms, used sparingly. ‘Vagina decliners’ for gay men is a favourite. Disappointingly, it didn’t get as a big a laugh as an old pub gag, but it deserved to.
Second is a hoity-toity, tweedy bellringer, who goes by the name of Margot, possibly in nod to the similar Good Life character. She gets chuckles from her slightly exaggerated mannerisms, especially the forced breathy laughs, but the humour is cemented when she spins a tale of a flirtation with a fellow campanologist. The combination of indignity at the man’s impudence and her disgust at physical contact is a delight. Again she’s larger-than-life, but Fay shows enough restraint to keep her almost believable.
Lastly, and most importantly, comes Blodwyn, the fantasist bride, who gets the entire audience involved in her dream wedding. Such interaction brings an enjoyable dynamism as her extended appearance builds up to the big moment. As she explains how she came to be there, her back story slowly unfolds, every sentence – and sometimes even a small gesture like the raising of an eyebrow, revealing some extra information about her character. It’s an enjoyable journey Fay takes us on, as we empathise with her convincing creation.
And who, really, isn’t going to leave happy when you’ve just witnessed, and possibly taken part in, a wedding, however fake. Lovely stuff.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Cat - 22/08/2007
I saw Isabel's first show as Anna, Magic Steve's Assistant and her follow up is just an inventive and hilarious! Loving the uptight bell-ringer, "...like a Ba-BOOON!" - great stuff. All three characters are superbly rendered and are both funny and unfortunate in their own way. She pays real attention to detail and is completely believable. A festival must-see!
Chris K - 16/08/2007
This was great. Isabel Fey uses the scene of a wedding in an interesting and innovative way to show three contrasting characters - a wedding planner, a bell ringer and a bride-to-be. The characters are uniquely funny but also quite endearing. There is real depth all three girls, especially the bride who comes across as both scary and pitiful. I can imagine there is a whole village of oddball characters somewhere and I would thoroughly recommend this. There is also cake.
Emma-Jayne Sherry - 13/08/2007
Really enjoyed the show! Was a bit sceptical - as hadn't seen any of her work before, but really enjoyed it -and have since recommended it to friends / family! Thought her characters here side-splittingly funny (still chuckle thinking about the bells), and absolutely loved the ending! Really think this show is a classic festival gem - miss it, miss out. Only piece of advice - don't eat the wedding cake!
Sophie - 13/08/2007
This is an awesome show from a very funny young lady! The three characters are all completely different and truly unique - and all absolutely hilarious! I loved every minute of it.
Rory - 12/08/2007
A fantastic show - so much more than elongated sketches as so much has gone into creating each character Isabel Fay plays. The way she reveals each character through tiny details ensures that you're captivated throughout and end up genuinely liking the characters, which given they are comic creations is a triumph. Really enjoyed it.
Tom Brewer - 12/07/2007
A brilliant show! I went to see a preview of this on Monday and it was just so funny. If this is a work in progress I can't wait to see the real thing. Having been dragged along by a mate I wasn't sure what to expect because I'd never heard of her, but this show was hilarious - her comic timing is incredible and the script is surprising and very clever, and the end is priceless but I won't spoil it for you. She is also quite cute but this is besides the point!