Regular Fringe-goers may be disappointed that the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, long one of *the* Fringe rooms, has been given a tasteless, soulless revamp – wood replaced with glass, the walls painted a deadening grey. There’s even fake exposed brickwork to make it look like a crap 90s comedy club. But while the renovators have done their best to extract the life from the place, Pippa Evans does her best to put it back in. This hour proudly states its ambition to put a smile back on people’s faces after a rocky few years. It’s feelgood afternoon comedy you can take your mum to. Which one adult audience member has…
Evans sets off down the modern-day standard “world’s gone to shit” road, but instead of ploughing on into Trump, Brexit, austerity territory, she springs the other way into sunnier, more optimistic pastures. On the way, she stops to consider the hidden sinisterness in Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy and the subversive power of a wink.
Her talents for improv and musical comedy are well known via Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, so there’s plenty of jazz-handy moments, backed by a duo on keyboards and percussion. But the best bits today are her one liners, delivered with polish, often seemingly as an afterthought. She’s performing well within herself though. Some song ideas are snippetty, and from time to time she has a quick peek at her notes – more than forgiveable during previews, of course – but it conspires to give the impression she’s not come here as hungry for it as a less seasoned comedian.
The aforementioned audience member and his mum provide a highlight when Evans turns Son’s childhood dreams of being an astronaut into improvised song. It’s well received and might have made a better climax than the low-on-laughs number about the music she likes to listen to on her headphones. A segment on Blur and Oasis dates her, but probably not so it would matter to this audience, and provides a cheery singalong on its resolution.
The Beeb-approved Evans might be too wholesome for some tastes, but this show’s good wholesome, like a fresh fruit salad on a summer’s day, not boring wholesome like a system-purging kale smoothie. It makes for very pleasant post-lunch fare.