First Night: Laura Solon, Komedia, Brighton

Perrier winner should be laughing after broadening her appeal
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Before 27-year old Laura Solon won comedy's biggest prize, the Perrier award, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year, she had already caught the eye of a TV production company, Brown Eyed Boy, which produced 3 Non Blondes for the BBC. She had also been taken on by Avalon, one of the big two comedy agencies in the UK.

The faith put in the young character comedian duly paid off and after her current tour ends Solon will be kept busy with a Radio 4 series and developing TV scripts for the BBC.

Solon's show, a parade of dysfunctional characters, was generally agreed in Edinburgh to be a solid showcase, but a showcase all the same. "A five-star script with a four-star performance in a three-star format," was how the comedy website Chortle described it.

For a fiver in a pub, a solid showcase was justifiable but one could argue that to tour the show, changes should have been made. And changes have indeed been made for the better. Even if the hour-long show is still a showcase it is an extremely entertaining one.

Going from a crippled Australian divorcee possessed by the spirit of Princess Diana - "If I meet someone with aids I just can't keep my hands off them" - to a competitive wedding planner from Rotherham, Solon's versatility is plain for all too see.

Lucy Lumsden, the BBC's comedy controller, has called Solon's performance "truly mesmeric". Certainly, Solon's attraction is much more than a physical appeal, her magnetism comes from her taut, controlled performance and most importantly from high quality lines such as "she's not a medium, she's huge" and "Elephant and Castle; one place name two broken promises".

The wiry comic even toys with an Oscar Wilde maxim in one character sketch where her travel-weary cipher proclaims: "The one thing worst than not being talked about is... Madrid." Solon has also ditched a few characters such as an earnest American motivational speaker who under-impressed in Edinburgh. In her place she has enlisted a Welsh nerd who keeps her passions in a shoe box.

It's all for the good as the show zips along with a breathless gusto that on one level leaves you bewildered by its range but ultimately leaves you wondering where the time went and wanting more. That Solon's character are about gags more than they are about catchphrases or quirks is very promising for a sketch character comic at this early stage.

What the added frippery of television will bring remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the success of Solon's show can only bring with it a heavy weight of expectation.

Comments