There’s not much in the way of a comedy scene on Shetland. If you believe the anecdotes of native daughter of that island Marjolein Robertson, there isn’t much of anything, especially potential suitors.
Robertson’s set is structured around the complex attraction and repulsion dichotomy she has for her home. This is common for most people who have ever grown up in a small town or village, but Shetland’s remoteness makes this all the stronger.
Her show takes a little time to get going, but once she hits her stride this is a nicely-paced and charming hour. Robertson isn’t afraid to delve into the intimate details of her life, and she tells her stories in richly self-deprecating fashion. This candidness occasionally is at odds with the soft lilt of her island accent. Surely this is a tongue meant for reciting romantic poetry and folks songs; not jokes about excess body hair and sexual embarrassment?
There are more moments where you feel she’s battling against a natural shyness, so when she decides to chat up an audience member in predatory fashion, it’s a little surprising. If she can tap into that wellspring of confidence and confrontation a little more, she will be onto a winner.
There is perhaps a little bit of a tendency to rely on jokes that refer to the somewhat stagnant gene pool on Shetland. Robertson keeps returning to quips about there always being a risk of accidentally dating a relative slightly too often. Having said that, a routine about using Tinder on a small island is a neat spin on the subject, as she has her hopes raised and dashed by a passing boat full of Norwegian sailors.
Robertson is an intensely likable person and a very promising comedian. Her tales of Shetland, and the complex relationship she has with her home, provide a sold and compelling narrative for her debut Fringe show. Having established a comedy night and an improv troupe on Shetland, she certainly isn’t resting on her laurels, and she will surely only improve.