In her debut Fringe show, Stevie Martin opts for the unusual approach of doing away with a middle and an end altogether, preferring to stick solely with the beginning. It’s not that she’s incapable of finishing things, she promises us, just that she loves starting new ones. True to her word, the show is a chaotic collection of false starts and absurd opening scenes, each as silly and abrupt as the one preceding it. Despite this jarring structure – or lack thereof – the laughs keep coming from start to finish.
That’s because of Martin’s natural flair for clowning around and slipping seamlessly in and out of the maddest of character creations – she’s the kind of person you could imagine had the classroom in stitches with an uncanny imitation of the geography teacher or a simple contortion of her plasticine face. It’s this innate gift for goofery which carries the show, imbuing her half-realised skits and higgledy-piggledy non-sequiturs with charisma and warmth as they jostle for position throughout its duration.
Unfortunately, the mastery of the performer can’t mask the failings of her material completely. It’s not that the scenes are poor – it’s just that all of them are over too quickly to really eke out the belly laughs from the audience. There are a couple of callbacks and hastily tied-up loose threads at the show’s end, which perhaps evoke the biggest laughs of the evening, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that her potential is some way short of being met. Dispensing with a conventional structure is a bold call which ultimately doesn’t pay off, but Martin’s likeable buffoonery still makes it well worth the price of entry.