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Laura Solon: Rabbit Faced Story Soup - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Laura Solon was the magpie of Edinburgh, having swooped down on festival out of nowhere, accidentally stolen the shiny thing, then disappeared just as quickly.

Well, the TV career obviously didn’t take off as promised, so now she’s back, four years after her Perrier win, to remind us of the talents that won her that prize in the first place.

And there’s no doubt she succeeds, with this entertaining, character-driven yarn, full of wryly smart lines and performed with subtle aplomb. Rabbit Faced Story Soup is not just a showcase for disparate sketches and comic creations, but employs a proper narrative, about the world of a small-scale book publisher, to properly hook the audience.

The sit of this com enables her to pointedly spoof literary genres. Anyone who’s taken perverse joy in the leaden prose of potboilers exposed by the likes of Robin Ince’s Book Club will surely enjoy the fictionalised versions Solon serves up. Her authors include a sci-fi writer, clunkily promoting her embittered feminist message, pretentious French existentialist Didier Auberge with his suicide-inducing 6,000-page punctuation-free tome, and the children’s author Carole Price, whose first post-divorce work makes little attempt to hide its subtext.

The plot, however, involves the publishing house’s megastar author, who goes missing after submitting a blockbuster manuscript – but without the crucial last chapter. The oligarch company owner, the ruthless agent and the hapless assistant all must try to track it down.

On the face of it, these characters are broadly drawn: the Frenchman is arrogant, the Eastern European billionaire tyrannically intimidating, the superbitch agent, well, super bitchy and compassion-free. Yet in Solon’s more-than capable hands they don’t seem too much like stereotypes, with convincing performance and clever, funny lines to enforce their personalities with brevity and wit. Just a single one-liner, for instance, and you’ll never see the term ‘spam folder’ in quite the same way again.

Her restrained performance adds to the believability, not to mention the fact she has an impressionist’s ear to capture the soul of person in their intonation. Even just a fleeting cameo like her Radio 4 presenter nailed the rhythms and underlying condescension in the voice perfectly.

With her long-overdue comeback, Solon is striving for the simple, yet often elusive, aim of a classy, delightfully funny hour. Job done.

Review date: 10 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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