Terry Saunders: Missed Connections

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Until the Fringe programme introduces a section dedicated to whimsical, wistful storytelling, gentle warm-hearted shows like this will find themselves categorised next to raucous gag merchants, with whom comparison is impossible.

It’s Daniel Kitson’s fault, really, opening comedy up to touching new areas previously only occupied by flighty acoustic indie bands. The guy in Terry Saunders’s show wearing a Ben Folds T-shirt was most definitely at the right gig.

But while Missed Connections is funny in the places it needs to be, it’s not consistently hilarious as Kitson’s shows are. Likewise it’s sweet and endearing, but can’t quite muster an emotional pull. It’s tough to hate an hour that’s so sincere and well-intentioned – but it’s tough to unreservedly recommend it, too, as it is most definitely aimed at a certain demographic of romantic artsy types, and doesn’t try to appeal beyond that tight group.

He sets up the tale with a personal preamble about the ‘missed connections’ adverts many local newspapers and listing guides now carry, where lonely people too hesitant to act on a passing glance or smile with a stranger ponder what might have been, and belatedly, desperately, try to kindle a romance by seeking them out through the press.

Saunders’s story concerns Ethyl, who’s addicted to both eye tests, thus providing the prerequisite quirkiness, and reading these ads online in the hope – rather like Saunders himself - that she will be the subject of someone else’s missed connection. Then, one day, she gets carried away with herself and starts dabbling in the lives of the unattached people who have place the ads.

The tender tale unfolds, illustrated with home-made drawings which demonstrate a certain amateurish charm, and more than a little wit, to reinforce the simple, blissfully naïve atmosphere of the whole piece.

Reviews that say ‘it’s all right if you like this sort of thing’ are always a cop-out – after all isn’t that a logical certainty – but it’s a struggle to avoid that conclusion here. Saunders won’t win over any waverers as there’s no hidden depths to his work, but if charming, daydreamy whimsy is your bag, Saunders can fill it.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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