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