One half of comedy duo ‘Twins’ (who earned widespread plaudits last year and are back again with a follow-up named Two Balls in a Bag), Annie McGrath launches her own solo show this time around with The Seven Ages of An. In it, she treats us to a full display of her entire acting repertoire – which is really a simple excuse to show off seven characters she has created, each with their own gag-reel and call-backs.
The show gets off to a strong start, with Annie gently kneading the audience (one of which happens to be her mother, making for some uncomfortable sex jokes later in the hour) and introducing the concept of the show. Her props are amusing enough for the throwaway gags for which they are needed, though the photograph of her with erstwhile schoolmate Emma Watson threatens to dominate proceedings – and for the last 10 minutes, it unfortunately does.
The characters themselves range from a baby to an 89-year-old, and while the writing is often quite clever, it relies a little too much on the incongruousness of an octogenarian (and a tot) swearing like a docker and telling stories that are clearly about Annie herself but delivered in the guise of someone much younger or older. There are several top-notch jokes in there for sure, but they are largely swamped by the filler material. Annie also elicits applause for both the entrance and exit of each character, which is duly given – but which becomes a bit stale by the fifteenth time it’s asked for.
As we reach the final character, it becomes evident that the closing stages of the show will revolve around Annie’s attempts to step out of the shadow of her illustrious schoolmate. Of course, the idea is played strongly for laughs, but an over-reliance on Watson’s stature means the focus is directed away from Annie herself and suggests that the struggle is real. While Annie is likeable and droll, she won’t escape Watson’s success if she keeps drawing attention to it. There is real promise here, but a tighter script and a more dynamic delivery is needed to elevate this show to the “must-see” category.