Danielle Ward In Glorious Technicolor
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
The multi award winning comic and writer of Psister Psycho and Take A Break Tales returns to Edinburgh for her debut stand up show about thinking things, doing things and regretting things.
Danielle Ward has previously raided her dark mind for two fine Edinburgh shows – last year’s wickedly exuberant Psister Pyscho, and 2006’s peek at society’s dysfunctional underbelly, Take A Break Tales. But with her first leap into the stand-up fray, she has come horribly unstuck, with a sluggish, unfocussed monologue, performed with little enthusiasm or confidence.
The show is supposed to be an appraisal of her own life, prompted by being caught up in a bomb scare that caused her to take stock. Would she be happy to die with her notable achievements totalling little more than an appearance on a low-budget sudoku-based panel quiz on digital TV?
But as it has turned out, the show is half stand-up as therapy, talking though her bleakest moments, and half a discussion about her favourite things. These tend to be at best freakish, at worst morbid. Decapitation, conjoined twins, and the memory of seeing her first dead body are among her main obsessions.
They’re mostly introduced with an offhand line such as ‘I find it really fascinating that…’ or ‘my favourite ever story is…’ But if she is passionate about the subjects, she doesn’t let it show in a delivery that is so wearily deadpan, it can’t hope to engage.
Each topic, too, contains far too much unnecessary descriptive information, as if just telling us the facts and asserting that they are interesting is enough. Some of the stories, to be fair, are curious, but the comedy needs to be drawn out better, and quicker. For an accomplished writer, she hasn’t been keen at the editing.
Similar problems blight the more personal topics. She’ll talk about suicide, about a heart-wrenching relationship break-up, about acute public embarrassment at length, then try to tag a joke onto the subdued mood she created.
There are, actually, some quite good lines in here, if you go digging deep enough. But Ward doesn’t make it easy. She talks quickly and in monotone, giving no space or emphasis to the gags.
She admits that cynical contempt is her default setting, and clearly she can’t muster up any gusto for the job in hand. That ennui rubs off very quickly on the late-night audience, and laughs are very sparse indeed.
Ward has previously proved her gloomy, twisted brain is capable of accomplished comedy, but you wouldn’t suspect it on the basis of this lacklustre stand-up show alone.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett