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Caroline Mabey: Eat Your Friends

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

She may be two rashers short of the Full English, but the charmingly bonkers Caroline Mabey produces some moments of inspired hilarity in her bizarre, breakfast-themed show – even if, ultimately, the hour is too much like her animated egg sidekick: scrambled.

She has the air of a primary school teacher who has been at the gin – affable and keen to impart information, but very easily distracted. That she decided that breakfast was a suitable topic for a while hour – especially one performed in mid-afternoon – is odd enough, and her take on it even stranger.

Mabey busts some myths about what she considers the most arrogant of meals, with a pun-filled discussion and the aid of such animated characters as Kip the coffee pot, who featured in her debut last year, and Mr Skrangles, the aforementioned egg.

She gets a little lost in her make-believe world, but this is no laugh-free surrealist waffle, to borrow another breakfast item. Some strangely hilarious lines emerge from this unlikely lecture, often just juxtapositions of everyday words that sound suddenly comic used in that specific combination. The precision of the offbeat imagery helps, too. I daresay this is the only show this Fringe to reference the Encarta multimedia encylopedia.

Her downplayed performance skills also contributes a lot. The phrase ‘a liar and a boast,’ for example, isn’t obviously funny at all – but through her madness and deft deliery it is made to shine. Mind you, it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest laughs comes when she says emphatically and authoritatively: ‘I *am* mental.’ No objections are forthcoming, but the sudden burst of self-aware honesty is endearing. Mabey is also very quick off-script, with excellent crowd banter and an instant wit when the occasion demands.

Over an hour, it tends to get a little indulgent, with extended segments that don’t quite gel – but even then she’ll fire out another unlikely zinger, and the show is back on course. It’s flawed, but there are moments of oddball genius here from an always-intriguing performer.

Review date: 18 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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