Deborah Frances White Is Phoning It In

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

The meteoric rise of the mobile phone over the last decade has made it a popular topic for comedy, but very few comics have gone so far as to write an entire show on the subject. This is one of those Fringe shows that truly delivers on its title: it's not bunch of material on different subjects loosely tied together by a mobile-related theme, but rather a full hour of anecdotes, jokes and audience participation on something that is (quite literally when kept in a jacket pocket) close to all our hearts.

Francis takes us briefly through the rise in popularity of the mobile phone, questioning exactly why they became so popular just as New Labour came into power, and how that ties in to the distracting and occasionally life-consuming nature of texting. From here she reveals exactly how addicted and reliant upon our mobiles we all are, albeit just for three things: comedy, sex and ruining relationships.

This is a show heavily reliant on audience participation, and as such can live or die on the willingness of the audience to go along with it. Despite there only being around ten punters tonight, it's a testament to White's natural charm that she was still able to coax out some good stories. This charm was apparent right from the start as she offered airline stye 'upgrades' to those at the back of the room to get them move to the front.

The other side of this, however, is that the biggest laughs of the show came from what the audience members said, and not White herself. This highlights the major flaw in the show: that while it's amiable enough hour that you find yourself smiling through and laughing politely at, there are very few belly laughs or truly brilliant lines.

Some things also drag on: what would have been a brilliant throwaway pun on Sense And Sensibility becomes a tiring look at how two passages from the book would look in text-speak.

White's natural affability certainly makes this show an enjoyable enough way to spend an hour and you'll certainly be amused. You might even learn that you're more reliant on your mobile than you thought, but it doesn't deliver many big laughs - though perhaps with a larger audience, that would be resolved.


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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