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Holly Burn: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Nione Meakin

Welcome to The H Club, Edinburgh’s ‘least exclusive private members’ club’ where your host for the evening is a deranged Geordie who appears to have carried on partying when Keith Richards called it a night.

Squeaking and sighing like an expiring balloon, Holly Burn douses the stage in petrol, fires grapes from her mouth and puts on her best Abigail’s Party voice as she mixes the audience elegant cocktails of ‘Irn-Bru and fun’ with slapstick clatter.

A hand-drawn ‘choosey board’ full of mysterious symbols and numbers dictates which of her characters we will meet next; There’s a woman having a breakdown in Wagamama, a fraught shoe shopping trip with ‘Lapsong Suchong and Minkie-Poo’ and a coquettish flirt who got caught in a rainstorm, forgot her name and now appears to be blind. In between, there’s a broccoli forest, a chalice of tears, tin foil and squashed bananas. It’s like every late-night Glastonbury Festival ‘experience’ collected in one medical tent.

The show might sound like too much self-conscious wackiness but somehow it’s not, perhaps because there’s nothing precious about Burn. She’s just a gloriously silly woman with a warped mind and a cheerful disregard for shame. A less likeable comic would really struggle to keep the audience on side for a lot of this show but Burn is so adorable that both the men and the women in the audience fall in love with her.

Besides, beneath all the breathy madness, she actually has a pretty solid framework. She’s a natural with physical comedy (the ‘snake cup’ initiation ceremony is a beautiful piece of clowning) and her writing reveals some absolute gems (witness one member’s complaint about the H Club’s ‘Rosa Parks VIP area - where no one feels special’). She’s also an expressive performer who can get a laugh just by twitching her eye in a certain way. While she employs a ridiculous range of props, she’d be watchable if she only had her mic.

This show won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’s very, very weird and there’s a real danger you might get wet or be hit in the face with a shoe. If you’re the sort of person who prefers parties where the olives stay in the glass and no one gets on the table, this probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you’re the sort who sees the person on the table and wonders how they’d hold up in a human pyramid, bribe or blag your way into the H Club post-haste.

Review date: 13 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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