Sophie Black: A Sketch Show

archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 12 Aug 2010
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Sophie Black stumbles onstage already fully in character and immediately drags the crowd into a strange world that, while fully realised, is just out of the audience's reach. Once part of sketch troupe Fat Tongue, Black now sings the same tune—a series of absurd character sketches—but without the rest of the choir. The result is that Black seems to be the only one in on the jokes. While her act is gently amusing in a teatime Radio 4 sort of way, Black's real problem is that, in search of laughs, she replaces the genuinely funny with the just plain surreal. 

At one point Black asks us to imagine Orlando Bloom engaged in a military coup of Malta, disguised as Saddam Hussein and toting nuclear weapons. This is typical of Black, layering details on top of pop culture references in the hope that the sheer randomness of the scenario will be comedy enough. But Black's creativity in the end leaves the audience just a tad confused, struggling to make sense of a one-eyed film producer who thought ET would be excellent in The Colour Purple. The unfamiliarity of the characters is not helped by how little time Black leaves to flesh them out, before discarding them for a new sketch.  

While Black expends much effort in linking each sketch through callbacks, she would do better to include some degree of genuine observation to give the show real bite and relevance to reality, rather than the neatly unified but distant world it currently inhabits.