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The Abi Roberts Experience - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Chloe Smith

Abi Roberts arrives on stage with real verve, giving comedy’s favoured pre-show music Let Me Entertain You the full benefit of her rather wonderful voice. Then she stops singing, and it turns out that her intention in this show is to make us laugh. Instantly I am aware of a strong desire to hear another song.

The voice, as it turns out is not only strong, but imitative too. Roberts can do Julie Andrews and Bette Midler, Cher and Aretha Franklin. So she trots out snippets of all four, but does none of them any justice, mostly because the snippets are too short.

Between each, she gazes mournfully at the ceiling and asks herself ‘who else can I do’, as though she hasn’t given it much thought.

She engages members of the audience in a little ribald humour, then shies away from it on the grounds that there may be children in the audience. It is 11pm. Having dispatched the greats, Roberts moves on easier to targets; a near tribute to Noel Coward is bastardised with a rap beat, and insult is added to injury with a redux of Alexandra Burke’s murder of Hallelujah. Once was too much.

All this is interspersed with an attempt at stand-up so misguided it’s embarrassing. She bitches about her friends in musical theatre, fails to draw a laugh from tales of travels with Aeroflot, bitches about Susan Boyle and fails to draw a laugh from operatic vibrato. The pattern is all too clear. Nasty, where funny would have been preferable.

Clearly Roberts knows a great deal about music and holds opinions on its every manifestation. What she knows about making people laugh, rather than titter uneasily, could be covered in the time it takes to walk out the door.

Roberts has a great voice, though I know little of such things. There may be something here for those who enjoy this kind of genre-mixing, but the experience was too much of a stretch for me.

Review date: 15 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Chloe Smith

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