Cheery Edinburgh native Charlie Vero-Martin is taking us all on a picnic to help us forget for an hour that the world is going to hell in a handcart. She’s joined by a cavalcade of weird and wonderful characters in a series of silly (and occasionally informative sketches). She is also aided by her willing assistant, the adorable, diminutive Daniella. Why does Varo-Martin require a Penfold to her Danger Mouse when all her props are easily to hand? That will become clear later on. There is something darker afoot at this picnic than just the risk of ants going after the jammy pieces.

The breezy Vero-Martin is a goofily magnetic host, her broad, welcoming smile selling an atmosphere of geniality and communal spirit. Much has been made of her cute and colourful DIY props, but she also demonstrates a savvy way with tech as she gives us a spurious PowerPoint history of the picnic – a mammoth hunt was ‘the first picnic’ for example. Before long she’s launched into her first character, marine biologist Professor Von FlipFlop, complete with outrageous German (or Swedish, if here are any Germans in) accent. An early highlight, Charlie deftly combines the tech with her props to give a lovely, warmly hilarious lecture on sea urchins and hermit crabs. We also meet the likes of a representative from suspiciously culty wellness company, Magic of Yoni; Neville Nevilleson, a speaker at the Rotary Club with enormous arms and a mysterious day job; and Mr Basket Case, a googly-eyed picnic basket. They are all well-written (it’s clear a lot of time, care, and love has gone into the show), and demonstrate Charlie’s multifarious gifts as actor, improviser, and physical comedian.

Not all of the sketches have much to do with picnics, but Vero-Martin switches back to herself to keep things on theme. It’s quite an unusual move to flit between the two, but it gives the show a chance to breathe, and turns out to make sense narratively. The sweet, almost childishly energetic Charlie has been pulling a Keyser Söze the whole time. The clues were there! There had even been a lesson in cryptic crosswords, you suckers! What has already been a breathless ride becomes madder and funnier still as things take a turn to folk horror.

However given the ultra-heightened reality in which ‘Picnic’ exists, it’s somewhat jarring when Vero-Martin comes to an ‘Oh, that’s what the show was about!’ conclusion, particularly when the narrative had already risen to a sudden manic crescendo of glorious silliness. When ‘Picnic’ has spent 50 minutes marinading in its surreal atmosphere, it’s a real bump back to Earth, even if the resulting story is told with her customary verve. It would have been entirely acceptable to leave the picnic in its own space cadet orbit. It doesn’t derail what’s gone before, but perhaps suggests Charlie’s taken to heart the current truism that a show needs a message, or maybe it was a story she really wanted to tell and struggled to fit it in elsewhere.

Nevertheless, ‘Picnic’ is an impressive showcase for, and a very, very funny show from a multi-talented and imaginative performer who’s equally adept with multimedia comedy as she is with lo-fi handcrafted props. Whatever the restlessly creative Charlie Vero-Martin has up her sleeve next, we look forward to seeing it. Top tip: double bill ‘Picnic’ with Lachlan Werner’s ‘Voices of Evil’ for a full evening of dark daftness.

‘Picnic’ runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Underbelly Cowgate – Delhi Belly at 18:55