CATHERINE TATE
Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2001

*** In Edinburgh terms, this character comedy is almost quaint

Tate is a talented actress, but too often the material in this quartet of two-handed scenes lets her down

She looks rather like a ginger version of Smack The Pony's Sally Phillips, but Tate does not go so far off the wall so often, and when she does she seems to be labouring. One of these four sketches a drunken bride giving an embarrassingly forthright speech at the wedding reception is quite brilliant, as she belittles her new husband and his family and embarks on a tirade against anti-ginger prejudice. The others a batty grandmother, an office worker with an endless stream of mind-numbingly banal chatter, and an egotistical drag artist are less successful.

Tate performs with skill and control, but the observational material is nothing special, and when she pushes matters beyond this mode it feels slightly too effortful. Indeed, the drag scene, in which she draws on a moustache and plays a middle-aged male diva in a frock is in dubious taste: would this kind of lampooning be tolerated if the target was a gay man or a lesbian rather than a transvestite or transsexual?

Having seen and admired Tate as an actress, I wanted very much to like this show, and for fifteen minutes it is wonderful, but for the other half-hour it is sadly patchy.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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