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Laura Solon: The Owl Of Steven

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

If ever a show had Radio 4 written all over it, it’s this one. Nice middle-class girl Laura Solon leads us through a jolly Enid Blyton-inspired adventure set on a strange Channel Island where Frenchmen aren’t to be trusted, lighthouse-dwellers are mysterious and no-nonsense girls are the heroes.

Steven is the name of this island, and its most famous resident is its elusive owl. Hollywood actress/model/whatever Stacey Morris is sent there to front a wildlife documentary on this ornithological wonder, with the aid of her miserable Northern camerawoman Katherine.

In their quest they encounter such characters as the ever-bickering local councillors (an excuse for plenty of stupid ‘Your mum…’-style insults); the intimidating Gmavis (and, yes, that is how she spells her name) and by far the best creations: the formidable hotelier Miriam and her henpecked, clumsy husband Philip (think Neil and Christine Hamilton). Then there’s the sinister billionaire brothers who definitely aren’t based on the litigious Barclays Brothers, no sir, although it might be interesting to see how their paper the Daily Telegraph reviews this…

Very much in the vein of last year’s Rabbit Faced Story Soup, the versatile and talented Solon brings this cast of weirdos to life, making even the most shallow of comic caricatures seem more real than their thinly-drawn profiles might suggest. Solon is as elegant a writer as she is a performer, too, with droll and pithy lines spread liberally over the hour. She certainly has an ear for the perfect phrase, creating delightful mental images often with little more than a well-chosen adjective, delivered with masterful timing.

The flimsy narrative is a drawback: no one’s expecting Dickens but it means the show doesn’t hang together all that well, while a few of the scenes could still do with some more attention. However, when it works, The Owl Of Steven really zings, with brilliantly inspired turns of phrases and faultless performance.

Review date: 23 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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