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Isy Suttie: Pearl and Dave

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Pearl and Dave is Isy Suttie doing what she does best: A cosy, tender, romantic story, illustrated with poignantly sweet songs.

Poignantly sweet doesn’t equal laugh-out-loud funny, of course, and the chuckles here are thin on the ground. But you will leave with a snug feeling in your soul, and the grumbled self-motivation ‘C’mon, Dave’ lodged in your vocabulary to call upon whenever you need to give yourself a boost.

The Dave in question is a quiet, modest accountant who lives with his mum in Suttie’s home town of Matlock, Derbyshire. He’s not good with women but still holds a candle for the well-spoken Pearl, who he met at the Skegness Butlins, years ago.

Suttie picks up the story when he finds her on Facebook and tries to revive this romantic interlude over a series of remarkably chaste messages and Skype conversations. Their interaction is initially based on the lies and exaggerations of many a date, before they relax into their real personalities.

The Peep Show actress is most often compared to Victoria Wood – female, Northern(ish), musician, domestic outlook – but here she’s striving for Daniel Kitson territory, of a gentle, sensitive, ambiguous story told with heart. She falls short of that – who wouldn’t? – but the yarn still boasts plenty of surprisingly moving moments.

She’s a strong actor, and her singing voice is a treasure, ranging from gruff Dave to cut-glass Pearl. But despite this, and the fact the characters are well-drawn, this still remains firmly a story; you’re interested in seeing how it turns out – which is perhaps not as you expect – but not completely drawn into their parochial world. Somehow there’s just a slight shortfall in the credibility, even though these are firmly grounded characters.

Yet there are some lovely comedic flourishes – the sad letter from a celestial star named in a loved one’s honour; or the sound advice on how you should deploy Tom Waits’s music, all of which add to this rich, rewarding show.

Review date: 29 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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