Charlie Vero-Martin: Picnic | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Charlie Vero-Martin: Picnic

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Scottish-Italian clown Charlie Vero-Martin welcomes her audience to a charming scene: flowers, a lovely gingham dress with matching picnic blanket, and a box of chocolate fingers for you to take as much as you like.

The picnic is mostly just stage dressing until the end though, as Vero-Martin explains in her pleasantly burbling helium voice, before launching into a series of surreal sketches accompanied and enabled by her mute, Teller-like assistant Daniella.

First up, Professor Marina Von Flip Flop, a German sea life expert, who offers some facts about sea urchins that seem to be largely genuine. The character is given a lot of stage time but unfortunately never takes off, struggling to raise more than a gentle chuckle with her off-the-peg comedy German accent.

It’s a little difficult even to see what Vero-Martin herself finds funny about the character, and the writing does little to cover the conceptual gaps. When she brings on a few handmade hermit crab puppets, we start feeling like we’re trapped on the set of Playdays. It’s so gentle that it feels almost patronising.

The second sketch, in which Vero-Martin plays ‘the passive-aggressive pine cone who guards the chairs at National Trust properties’, has more imaginative flair. Again, the jokes aren’t really there, but the concept is ticklish, prompting one audience member to quietly lose her mind for about ten minutes straight. No one else in the room is quite as moved, but it feels like a small win for the performer. You have to imagine she’s used to a divided response.

Further in, things remain a little flat. A Q&A with a talking picnic basket quickly bumps up against the limits of Vero-Martin’s improv skills, while the quiz from the sex-positive Australian spiritualist is pretty much the same joke nine times in a row.

The highlight comes with one of the characters getting turned on while roleplaying as a Sim for the audience, but Vero-Martin abandons the idea weirdly quickly, given that it’s working pretty well.

A show-closing twist provides a fun little bit of extra context for what’s come before, but doesn’t go far enough in redressing this collection of fun ideas that feels underwritten and under-conceptualised.

Review date: 13 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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