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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Caroline Rhea ('Curb Your Enthusiasm', 'Man in the Moon', 'Sordid Lives' and Aunt Hilda in 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch'), stand-up comedian and actress, brings her fresh, funny and spontaneous show to Edinburgh.
After six series playing Hilda on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Caroline Rhea is one of the biggest stars on the Fringe. But while fame might get you sales, acclaim at such a crowded festival only comes from talent.
A stand-up before she was an actress, this ebullient 46-year-old cuts a fun and self-deprecating figure. She has the demeanour of a shut-in housewife getting indiscrete at a wedding, excited by the chance to chat and emboldened by a rare glass of wine (though in real life, she doesn’t drink). Slightly saucy and slightly klutzy, she enjoys a gossip while happily celebrating her own perceived flaws, flashing her girdle at anyone who’ll peek.
But there is a downside to this personality, which is that she’s easily distracted, especially with an audience she perceives isn’t laughing enough, largely due to the languidly sweltering room. She frequently mentions our reticence – even though we weren’t really conscious of it until she brought it up – and constant reminders will hardly redress the issue.
Wanting to get into some material about well-established relationships, she spends several wasted minutes trying to find the longest-married couple in the unresponsive room, when the time would have been better spent just doing the material. Similarly, she chats quite a lot to a few people near the front, leaving the rest of us feeling excluded.
It’s frustrating, because when she does focus, there are flashes of brilliant material here, especially at her own expense. The segment about her phone unexpectedly hanging up, for instance, is a classic – and she even finds a new joke in the usual blether about Edinburgh being hilly, rainy and full of cobblestones.
Other segments are less original, such as the observation about Australians’ rising inflections, or even her show-stopper about a misheard line in the Sound Of Music, which might be hilarious for those who’ve never heard it, but has been knocking around the internet for years.
Take out the meaningless banter, the ten-minute support act – her husband Costaki Economopoulos – and the tired routines and you might not have all that much left. But that portion of the pie chart is gold, told with verve by the sassy Canadian.
|Date of live review: Monday 9th Aug, '10|
Review by Steve Bennett
I agree with the reviewer. It was a bit tiring to have Caroline Rhea trying to make the audience feel guilty for not laughing loudly enough. It made everyone self-conscious and obviously didn't work at all. Maybe British audiences really are unusually quiet, or maybe the material just wasn't strong enough. You choose.
I must have been at a different night than the reviewer. I laughed hysterically. Gold throughout. Ms. Rhea is probably my favorite female comedian