Claire Ford: Unboxed | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Claire Ford: Unboxed

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Claire Ford has faced some ordeals in her life, and this show is her attempt to tell her story.

Yet while it engenders huge sympathy, Unboxed has such an uncertain tone, with an underpowered script, patchy performance and unclear aims, that it underwhelms.

Things are awkward from the get-go, as Ford’s preamble consists of jauntily asking obscure questions about cardboard boxes, her father’s line of business that she once seemed destined to inherit. We’re not supposed to have the answers, but that confusion – exacerbated by some references to one of her previous shows that we haven’t seen –  puts an already hesitant room on edge: what does she want of us?

That discomfort continues when she tells us of her first relationship, which was with a footballer twice her age who she met in a nightclub when she was just 15. Again, the mood is uneasy, and she doesn’t help the audience out, being quite cheery about some of the details, matter-of-factly given, despite their abusive nature. The disconnect between content and delivery is jarring. 

A couple of other heartbreaking, dramatic developments upend her life again and again, but the way she puts them in the context of the show, lurching from poignancy to flippancy, make it impossible to laugh.

Ford is half of the playful, non-verbal double act Kagools, but when trying to give voice to her life story, it is faltering, with none of the sure-footedness her partnership is known for. And she lost her place in the story a couple of times, too, suggesting Unboxed is as under-rehearsed as it is under-written.

Tragedy is increasingly being incorporated into comedy, but it needs a care and skill to cover the gear changes that Ford could not muster in a show that’s in desperate need of directorial input, as well as some more jokes.

Review date: 13 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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