Just The Tonic @ The Caves (Venue 88) 17:20
Aug 14th, 16th – 28th
Alice Marshall has a background as a comedy actress whose voice you may recognise from the gentrified comedy arena of BBC Radio 4. This gives her first solo show an immediately polished feel and uses her acting expertise well to present five different characters who all guide the audience through a crash course on what it is to be Vicious.
Our vicious guru is Greta Medina, introduced through a series of video segments that also cover up costume changes in an entertaining way. When these segments are Greta addressing the audience they work extremely well, with Marshall giving nuanced performances that contrast nicely with the more outrageous live sections. When Greta appears in person, strutting down the aisle in a leather cat suit and presumably having left her heart to decay into a mouldering piece of sludge in the toilets at Clapham’s Inferno nightclub, the anticipation for some truly vicious comedy is set.
Greta, however, is probably the most vicious and bitter of the characters Marshall has brought to Edinburgh. She interacts well with the audience, and cleverly finds real humour in the alarming reality of (not-so) young professional single life. She reveals a unique bitter insight into the act of “ghosting” through text messaging, and a fabulously grim reasoning of what used condoms can signify. For me, this was Marshall at her best.
The next two characters saw the show slip a little with Tim the arrogant hipster moving too much away from the vicious theme, and an impersonation of Cheryl Cole seeming too obvious and unnecessary a move for a comedian who can create great original characters of her own. In defence of Marshall, Cheryl kept the show varied, the audience responded well to her and from then on started applauding at the end of each section.
The final two characters were a massive improvement. Old drunk bird Unity De La Touche showed how vicious she could be towards her children as she hobbled around the stage and downed drinks (not always her own). If anything, this character could have been even more grotesque, more slurry, less polished and more off-script to get real belly laughs. I’m sure this would work after seeing the reaction to the final, and darkest, character of the set Louise, a monstrous eremitic being coached through first date etiquette.
It may not have been as Vicious as I would have liked, but Marshall’s first solo show is a confident and enjoyable hour of character comedy that builds up to the show-stealing finale.