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Catriona Knox: People In Glass Houses

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Crikey. Tough crowd at this Free Fringe gig, with several large groups dominating the standing-room-only section at the back more keen to entertain themselves than witness the goings-on on stage.

At moments like this, Catriona Knox must regret her decision to try to blur the boundaries of her show, since the punters had already taken the decision to ignore any theatrical conventions, such as shutting the fuck up.

She greets people as if a party host, commenting on the music playing as the audience file into the tiny venue and opening the ‘wine’; making everyone feel involved. But she struggles to get out of that relaxed vibe and get the show going, especially since her opening character is a particularly flimsy one who goes round the room blandly telling everyone they look nice. That’s only another invitation for the rowdy mob to chat loudly among themselves, and add their comments about how nice their fellow audience members are.

In fact, even when things do calm down a bit, Knox’s interaction with the audience is uneasy. We’re never quite sure of the terms of engagement, whether we’re supposed to see the imaginary dog she’s feeding, or how we should respond to her invitation to impregnate her (that’s a lot less seedy than I’ve made it sound).

The characters are a mixed bunch: the yummy mummy for whom childbirth was a breeze is a nice take on an old favourite, while both the estate agent coyly trying to chat up an audience member and the twisted bridezilla, manic on her wedding day, both promise much – but could do with punchier dialogue. The sketches that rely on physical comedy also feel underpowered.

Knox, a member of the Boom Jennies sketch group, is a charismatic performer who makes even the weirdoes convincing, and copes the best she can with the troublesome audience. But ultimately this is one of those shows that feels like more a showcase for a comic actress’s talents than it is a launch-pad for her as a comedian in her own right. Though it would have been nicer to see it in less fraught circumstances, just to be sure.

Review date: 30 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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