Rosie Holt: The Woman's Hour | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Rosie Holt: The Woman's Hour

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Social media sensation Rosie Holt gets some of the biggest laughs in this show simply by repeating what politicians say verbatim.  Indeed, such is the shameless shower of self-serving incompetence at the top of the Westminster tree that videos in which she poses as an MP and offers vacuous and slippery responses to interviewers’ questions have been mistaken for the real thing.

Taking to the stage with all the graceful moves of Theresa May and all the principled policies of Liz Truss, her ambitious intellectual vacuum of a politician is also the best thing in this character collection. She’s not, heaven forbid, a flip-flopping opportunistic liar who’ll say anything to get elected, just perpetually misunderstood.

And if anyone from the BBC is watching, Holt balances that with her second best creation, a hypercritial and hypocritical leftie, stabbing all her supposed allies in the back with her wicked whispers.

The preposterous character of gobby Julia Hartley-Brewer spouting simple-minded nonsense about the snowflake woke brigade forbidding everything is made even more ridiculous than she appears online with some daft physical comedy. Sorry, not Julia Hartley-Brewer, Harriet Langley-Swindon. Easy mistake.

Cancel culture also informs Holt’s most absurd sketch – Kirstie Allsopp doing an interpretive dance while wondering why her tone-deaf social commentary gets such a mean backlash – as well as a convoluted linking narrative about the real Holt getting cancelled, then winning the unwanted support of Vladimir Putin.

However, this attempt to fuse the comedian’s real experience of being at the centre of a social media storm with the character work is largely unsuccessful. The story’s not crystal clear while the meta aspects add needless complications with no clever payoffs – except perhaps for allowing Holt to say, without satire, what she really thinks about the parlous state of the nation. There are easier ways of getting that earnest message over, and less clunky ways of introducing characters than having her tell her mum in a fake phone call what she’s about to do.

That includes a funny Russell Brand impression – although that skit, like the man himself – waffles on too long; and the sexy French wife of a Commons sex pest who’s just a bit too baffling, and Holt’s constant references to the fact do nothing to alleviate it.

She’s an engaging, loose performer, happy to gambol along with the minor wardrobe malfunctions and clunky scene changes that a Fringe show requires. And the caricatures (politician’s wife excepted) prove effective cyphers for the people she’s so deservedly mocking.

But in looking at the show in the round, she needs to learn one lesson from the real political strategists and keep it simple. The jumble of attempted structure only serves to obscure and dilute the scenes that make The Woman’s Hour so timely.

Rosie Holt: The Woman's Hour is on at Pleasance Courtyard at 6pm.

Review date: 12 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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