Pippa Evans And Other Lonely People

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Pippa Evans makes an assured Edinburgh debut with this character showcase; a collection of well-drawn personalities, with some sly and subtle writing. Not every one of her creations quite comes off, but there’s more than enough evidence that she’s a slick, talented performer with an ear for a good line.

The show is sensibly topped and tailed with her best creations; starting with Granye, the worryingly optimistic counsellor from New Zealand who is leading this workshop about conquering loneliness. She gets us thoroughly into the swing of things, with plenty of audience banter and call-and-response icebreakers. She overuses this, but it does reveal an ease with ad-libbing that also allows her to weave the devious and deadpan lines she has previously prepared into the conversation.

At the end of the show, before Granye wraps things up, we meet troubled American folk singer Loretta Maine, the character Evans performs most on the circuit, and who got her to the finals of both the Hackney Empire and Funny Women new act competitions. Aloof, intense and dejected, she channels her outrage at her ex-lover and the music business that’s ignored her through some tender yet bitter songs. In fact, the music’s so good you might forget this is a comedy creation, until a beautifully-phrased line comes along to remind you of the fact.

Like most of Evans’s characters, Loretta lives on the edges of naturalism. You can almost believe they are real, until they drift just a little too far into surreal territory, where the jokes lie. Another example is Amanagela, a overly touchy cat-loving spinster, who is weird but benign until a trigger in her mind makes her suddenly, and surprisingly, angry. Again she engages in quick-witted interaction, alongside the almost Tourettic outbursts, to great effect.

Not all of Evans’s creations quite have the same impact The shouty, gym-obsessed, alpha-male businessman seems overly-familiar, as does the wavering accent of the Eastern European au pair, whose retelling of sexual encounters with her boss seems to go for the easy laughs Evans mostly tries to avoid. A snobbish middle-aged, middle-class housewife also appears to be an archetype, but her on-stage breakdown over her family’s problems shows that Evans can handle even the more obvious material skilfully, even if the ensuing song-and-dance number might have been a mistake.

Over the whole hour, Evans stages a largely impressive demonstration of what she can do. At her best, her performance calls to mind that great underrated comedy actress Morwenna Banks, backed with often-brilliant displays of off-centre writing. Definitely one to watch.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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