Many comics mine their own lives and personalities for laughs, sharing anecdotes, foibles and embarrassing stories with the audience to forge a bond. Emma Sidi’s approach is a mite different. Instead of any of that cathartic, soul-searching schtick, she reels us in (at one point, almost literally) with five madcap character creations, some excellent accent work and an astonishing amount of energy. It’s ludicrous, gabberflasting and utterly hilarious stuff.
Whether it’s the contemporary kinetic somatic movement practitioner, the star-sign obsessed blind date from one of the more grating circles of Hell, the wannabee socialite from all over Europe with not a single friend to her name, the Love Island rejectee or the failed actress turned NHS Nightingale, Sidi impregnates each of her fabulous creations with zesty charisma, unexpected turns of phrase and a healthy dollop of tragic allure. Britta, the pan-European loner, is a particular standout for the delivery and diction of her nonsensical monologue.
Because that’s what the script is mostly comprised of – nonsense. Written down in black and white, the amount of actual jokes would be easily outnumbered by those which might qualify as red flags, but Sidi’s delivery of them is what makes this show so magnetic. She’s an uber-clown of the first order and her slightly unhinged enthusiasm is all too infectious, meaning that the highs of Faces of Grace really are sky-bladdy-high.
The giddiness can’t be sustained forever, however, and the wobbles in the material mean that the show does sag in places. The absence of a unifying thread is also a minor complaint, and an attempt at a greater resolution at the show’s climax wouldn’t go amiss, either. Sidi’s comic talent alone makes the show hugely enjoyable, though, and greater refinement of her characters’ inane chatter could polish this treat into a proper highlight of the whole Fringe.