Alice Marshall: Blood | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett
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Alice Marshall: Blood

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

Alice Marshall is clearly investing a lot in her creations, with more than half the characters in Blood returning from last year’s debut, suggesting she’s hoping some will gain enough traction to be her calling card.

They are not especially deep personalities, but Marshall’s investment also includes putting a huge amount of energy and physical comedy skills into performing them, commanding the intimate room and drawing the audience into their strange worlds.

Her authority is never more firmly stamped than with her opening character, Greta Medina, a domineering relationship guru, contemptuous of the lot of us. Her withering observations on the dating game, based on the premise that love is a delusion, is akin to cynical stand-up, but with sometimes well-trodden topics elevated by the force of her superior personality, and peppered with fine comic touches. The dramatisation of her ovaries speaking to her is particularly effective, the silliness of the scene in contrast to the sternness of the character.

Speaking of silly, her depiction of the mating ritual of the bowerbird proved an excellent demonstration of Marshall’s physicality, as she strutted around the stage in bright cyan unitard to the genuine commentary of David Attenborough, ripped from the BBC’s Life Stories series. ’It’s an oddly mesmerising display,’ the great British treasure intones as Marshall exudes her wordless weirdness. Too bloody right, David.

Another brusque alpha-female next – that seems to be Marshall's forte – in the guise of a no-nonsense air stewardess en route to Magaluf, describing the party horrors that await and giving the safety demonstration with a gruesome twist – even if the announcement’s too long for the funny it contains.

Unity de la Touch makes a comeback next, although the sozzled grande dame does not seem an especially distinctive character to warrant resurrection from 2016’s Vicious; even if Marshall clearly loves playing a part you suspect she thinks might be her future. Certainly, that’s a distinct possibility if you believe that the scene-setting videos between the sketches accurately depict Marshall’s screwed-up real life.

And then to Louise, the nightmare-inducing grotesque on the prowl for a husband, her face smeared with lipstick beneath her crow’s-nest hair, barely able to communicate and commanded only by Greta Medina in voiceover, explaining how to use her feminine wiles to snare a man. Louise wouldn’t be out of place in Royston Vasey, while her selection of a suitable groom from the audience is typical of Marshall’s mix of the playful and the predatory.

But she keeps discomfort to a minimum - unlike some Fringe clowns we can mention - using those considerable performance skills for good over her brassy and funny hour.

Review date: 10 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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