Wednesday, September 28

Charlie Russell Aims to Please – Pleasance Courtyard

Charlie Russell wants to create a show that will please absolutely everyone by trying to hit as many solo Fringe show tropes and styles as possible within an hour, based on what her audience likes the most.

Though as a person/character Russell might just be trying to please an audience, as a show concept this is a quite challenge to them. You might know going in a comedy show is supposed to make you laugh, but it’s something else for a performer to point out that’s what they’re trying to do, tell you they’ve failed if you haven’t and give you a second and more controllable way of giving or with-holding approval: it’s a gauntlet that more mischievous or combative audience members might take some convincing to just put back on your hand. Or maybe that’s just her being a more positive (in the old-fashioned, pre-covid sense) person than I am.

The positive aura Russell exudes is a big part of the show, winning round the audience in itself and forming a bedrock for the different sections and jokes. Some of the requests and pieces are doubtless calculated bets. It seems reasonable to assume people who come to an adaptable fringe comedy like, for example, improv. But she puts her stamp on each section (her audience participatory dramatic scene was a particular stand-out) and Russell also deals well with unintentional curve-ball suggestions, throwing one of her own with an ending with as much dramatic depth and emotion as her earlier so-called dramatic scene didn’t (intentionally), showing real dramatic skills as well as a winning personality, humour and improvisation skills.

Several audience members had come to this show having been won over by production company Mischief’s other two Fringe shows and keen for more of their wit and quick-reactions, and I doubt they, or anyone else, left disappointed.

Charlie Russell Aims to Please plays until August 27th (not 15th) at Pleasance Courtyard, and tickets can be found at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/charlie-russell-aims-to-please

Reviewer: Oliver Giggins

Reviewed: 11th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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