Marjolein Robertson: Marj | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Marjolein Robertson: Marj

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Having ‘travelled through the astral plane’ to arrive at the packed-out Stand, Marjolein Robertson retains a few traces of another world – which I’m not sure she would appreciate me saying. But part of the charm of this unique performer is how she synthesises the earth with the air, and modernity with something much older.

There’s still a little stall-setting regarding her upbringing in Shetland, which has the effect of tantalising those of us who missed previous shows, but Robertson is now a highly experienced comic six shows deep. She’s well beyond the ‘getting to know you’ phase, interested in talking about weightier matters and fully in possession of the skills to do so. She holds a bustling crowd rapt with a structurally complex narrative while deftly and kindly spinning good-natured, but still intrusive, hecklers like plates.

After a slightly uneven opening of routine surrealism she quickly finds her footing, unspooling a tale of getting the morning-after pill. It cascades into a series of brilliant, connected routines, each section providing background on the previous one. She moves backwards chronologically through a one-night stand with a French boy, helping a homeless man move his bed, and seeing a slice of the moon fall off in the park at night.

The latter is one of several moments that illustrate Robertson’s believability, one of her key strengths. She’s very effective as an actor, projecting a trustworthiness and authenticity that helps a wary audience buy into her less grounded moments. When she comes up with the punchline ‘the only voice allowed to sing in Shetland is that of the wind,’ you believe in the reality as well as the unreality of the premise.

It's a quality that’s key to the show’s most dangerous turn, as Robertson, perhaps too suddenly, segues into much graver matters, and her interrupted folk tale about a fisherman trapping a selkie takes on real world resonance, tying into experiences of her own. ‘I call him my fisherman,’ she sighs dreamily, ‘because I had an anal fissure when I met him.’

Through apparent tears and a failing voice, Robertson disorientingly acts the sad part exceptionally well, but then continues throwing in jokes without really breaking character. Although there’s a sense that these tones have yet to fully coalesce, Marj offers an emotional and ambitious twist from Robertson’s magnetic and hilarious voice, ready to move on to much bigger things.

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Review date: 9 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Stand 1

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