Pam Ann: The Sky's The Limit, Bloomsbury Theatre, London <!-- none onestar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

The Australian comedian Caroline Reid's Christmas outings as the trolley dolly extraordinaire, Pam Ann, are becoming an institution. Unfortunately, the third and latest offering from this accomplished character and gay icon never got off the ground. Pam's worst nightmare - becoming economy- class - came true. This downgrading was evident from an unadventurous set, though it would be hard to compete with last year's; Pam's pink-PVC costume sparkled, but her repartee did not, with plenty of put-downs, but few set-ups. "Not many crew in tonight," she mused at one point, an acknowledgment that she needed industry support to get the punchlines going.

Proceedings were not helped by a blink-and-you'd miss it first act. This section partly belonged to Lilly, Pam Ann's Chinese-hostess assistant, who checked in "passengers" plucked from the audience. Lilly (still Reid) wore clothes more geisha than Guangdong ("Some people confuse me for Japanese"), with special glasses to affect an Oriental look. It would have been an unpalatable parody, but Lilly was a dominant character ("Gate not open yet, gate not open yet!"; "Have you dropped Ecstasy already?"), whom we laughed with not at.

A short in-flight movie, Pam Ann's One World Alliance, also arrived before the early interval. It was a collection of global trolley-dolly spoofs, including favourite targets such as BA staff (depicted as horses) and an easyJet air hostess (basically Catherine Tate's Lauren the Teenager, in an orange suit). For Pam, easyJet meant easy laughs, and she got her best lines out of comparing the airline to a minicab service, and mimicking its menu ("Do you think one day we'll serve hot food?"). These were the best moments before The Sky's the Limit dipped into a lame game-show format consisting of a faked orgasm and mimes of songs, including Madonna's "Like a Prayer".

In the same way that Reid must struggle to find new material about the same airborne issues, it's a challenge to find new metaphors to describe her efforts. But there can be no other way to describe this show: Pam was winging it.

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