Rachel Stubbins is Stubbing Out Problems, Udderbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh


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The Independent Culture

Rachel Stubbins' agony aunt character is a disappointingly drab creation, albeit a confident one. It is quite a feat that she elicits an emotional response from her audience by the end of her show, snatching it rather from the jaws of indifference.

In a very simple and neatly put together hour, Stubbins’ weak handle on her own profession is revealed in conversational pep talks, and also in equally revealing, pre-recorded Skype ‘consultations’.

Stubbins' unravellling from sly and superior ("I'm in Edinburgh, because Scotland has the most depressed and depressing people") to a mess is an adroitly nuanced spectacle, from her unbelievable naïveté on the health of her parents’ marriage to her denial about her own relationship needs.

Her emotionally neutral persona however makes her neither likeable nor unlikeable - even her catch phrase "stubbed out" is an inaudible whisper, barely used for comic effect.

Among the set-pieces angling for laughs are dead ends such a hand puppet playlet about ambition, in which Emmeline Pankhurst ends up working for Thorntons. Then there is the equally weak, ironic demonstration of her intellect, a forlorn display to gain our trust. "I know things," Stubbins assures us as she reads facts about Shakespeare off the back of her hand.

The character signposting is all here, but it's not always pointed at comedy. When we reach the end, the change in emotional range of the piece is both a relief and a reminder of opportunities previously missed.

Until 27, 0844 545 8252