Sorry, Harriet Tubman is Phoebe Robinson’s Fringe and UK debut following on from her successes in America. These include a bestselling novel, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain, hit podcast 2 Dope Queens, as well as perhaps her most significant professional achievement to date, accompanying First Lady, Michelle Obama, on her book tour.
Although less well known in the UK, Phoebe immediately wins over the crowd by launching into a ‘behind the scenes’ tale about the beloved Michelle Obama, which she aptly describes as the ‘best day of her life’. Phoebe recognises how overwhelming it can be to meet, let alone work with, one of your personal heroes, especially when lactose intolerance tries to ruin the party. Phoebe battles through and from the outset, you get the feeling that she won’t be hiding anything about herself from the audience.
True to this, when Phoebe explores the main ethos of her show, trying to make the world and society better, she recognises her failings in this area. She also highlights some interesting questions and you find yourself wondering how hot it was when Martin Luther King marched in a full suit. But this routine falls a bit flat within the rest of the show, which has fun highlights – from her living with her boyfriend and her thoughts on circumcision. In case you were wondering, she’s pro-foreskin all the way.
Phoebe Robinson’s set is funny and her charm carries some lesser jokes, but overall it lacks a cohesive thread running throughout and it feels as though it’s more of a work in progress than a full hammered out show. Once she has ironed out the material so that it flows better, Sorry, Harriet Tubman promises to be a thought provoking and engaging show.