Rachel Jackson: Almost Famous | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Rachel Jackson: Almost Famous

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

According to her old ballet teacher, Rachel Jackson is someone who ‘tries very, very hard’, which is certainly one of the things that comes up repeatedly in her sophomore hour. 

She opens with her most clickbaity material, about the time she met Dwayne Johnson in China and was separated from him by his minders before he could finish asking her a question. Unfortunately, like most clickbait, it’s a disappointment once you get through to the content – The Rock’s question was not interesting, and the payoff is that he’s retweeted her videos a couple of times.

The rest of the hour comprises tales of a born grafter faced with adversity. Jackson tells how she’s been mistreated by Disney and by staff at her last Edinburgh venue; of mental health crises; and of auditions gone wrong, bringing a lot of positive energy to the stage and maybe not quite enough self-awareness. 

All the hard work serves a single goal – to become famous at all costs. Whether by acting or comedy or something else seems immaterial, as long as it happens, and Jackson brings enough vivacity to this show that you could potentially see her converting it into a TV-presenting job.

At the same time, you can’t help wishing she’d interrogate the fame thing a little more. Why is it something she wants so much? What does she want to contribute? Both issues remain somewhat out of reach.

On the topic of mental illness, Jackson has more to say. She suffers from purely obsessional OCD, leading to intrusive thoughts that are impossible to dispel. Specifically, when she goes through a bad patch, she believes she’s secretly a paedophile, despite all evidence to the contrary. Her description of the challenges involved is moving and educational, although her broader claims might need a pinch of salt. Is OCD ‘the Black Sheep of the mental illness community’ simply because it’s misunderstood? Surely that applies to most mental illnesses? And was Catherine Zeta-Jones really blacklisted from Hollywood because she revealed her bipolar diagnosis? It doesn’t seem like an airtight case. 

More obvious is her self-described ambition, ‘like a cross between Geri Halliwell and Lady Macbeth’, and it’s that that shines through more clearly than the comedy.

• Rachel Jackson: Almost Famous is on at The Stand at 1.20pm

Review date: 16 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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