Just the Tonic at The Community Project (Venue 27)
Aug 11-17, 19-30
Buy a ticket in advance to guarantee entry or Pay What You Want at the venue
As I circumvented the bee-busy hoards of festi-revelers scampering about the Cowgate, ‘There was no better way,’ I thought to myself, ‘to celebrate the diversity of the fringe than spend an hour with the perfect buffoonery of Louise Reay (pronounced Ray).’ Her offering at this year’s Fringe is an alternative take on the little-known fact that ninety-three percent of what makes us laugh is actually non-verbal. After spending said hour with Reay I have to agree… I swear down, the way she peppers her jestering physical theater with sly looks at the audience, the tiniest raise of an eyebrow set me off in fits of giggles.
Louise conducts ‘Its Only Words’ entirely in mandarin – well, perhaps it’s mandarin, but whatever language she is speaking, made up or no, here delightful chirupping patter accentuates her series of skitches (not quite skit, not quite sketch) with the most billowing beauty. Entering here stage with big 80’s hair an Arthur Daley jacket, Reay whisks us through her funky set-pieces with aplomb… experiencing the Peggy Mitchell- Frank & Pat Butcher love triangle from Eastenders in madcap Mandarin is, well, one of those moments.
In the tradition of the greatest clowns, she properly utilises props along the way, whose chief artefact was a white sheet which used with such diverse ways as turning her into an Opera singer & a chaste, immaculate-conception-seeking nun… before being ‘born’ out of her lady-garden with a great deal of extended hilarity, then swaddled up into a new-babe born. She is also an expert at audience interaction – five members of the audience joined her on stage throughout the show, none of whom looked awkwardly placed, so adept was Louise at making them – & us – feel comfortable.
I would love to go back in time to that drunken moment in a pub when she said, ‘do you know what – I’m gonna try & write a comedy show entirely in Mandarin,’ & do you know what, she’s bloody succeeded, n’all.! FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Damo Bullen