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Fran Moulds: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Nione Meakin

Fran Moulds' solo debut is not a bad show by any means – it’s just not very funny.

It’s a rare problem for a comedian's characters to be too believable but that’s the case here. Moulds (best known as one of Radio 4 sketch team Umbrella Birds) spends too much time drawing her creations, shading them and giving them depth – and not enough time considering what purpose they serve in a comedy show.

A tour guide for a disused Welsh mine starts off promisingly, going through her spiel in an amusingly unnecessary range of languages. But then the audience is left sitting in the dark listening to her babble over a PA system about her dead husband.

The dippy West Coast creative writing tutor who proclaims that there are only seven stories in the world seems nothing more than showcase for Moulds’ admittedly impressive acting abilities, ditto the macho Aussie basejumper who botches the presentation intended to secure backers for his adventure DVD. Yes, Moulds is good at accents but so what?

A leather jacket-clad theologian whose passion for his subject is eclipsed by a passion for his students is brilliantly realised however, and one of the better examples of Moulds’ knack for subtext. His desperate attempts at being cool and his awkwardly revealing catchphrases make him a stand-out character.

Many of Moulds' characters seem driven by repressed disappointment and anger, from the intense Bolton teenager telling YouTube about her conversion to Islam, to the self-loathing broadsheet journalist with a classics degree who laces her sneering columns about celebrity tittle-tattle with references to Goethe. It's an engaging world view not dissimilar to Julia Davis’ warped black brilliance but as dark as Davis’ comedy is, it is still comedy – this isn’t.

These are interesting characters, thoughtfully written, but they seem the stuff of drama.

Perhaps Moulds’ talents would be better suited elsewhere. There’s no disputing this is an accomplished and elegant show but this supposed character comedy is suffering from an identity crisis.

Review date: 27 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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