Edinburgh Fringe 2010
This is Laura Solon in a considerably perkier and downright more mischievous mood than we’ve sometimes seen her. As we’ve come to expect from the woman who, as far as we’re aware will for all time be able to call herself the most recent winner of the Perrier Award, there’s a playfulness and wit about language that borders on genius, but she’s not afraid of being silly with a rich cast of characters, populated by meta-aware French spies, or the sort of women for whom at least two signature dishes are filched from the Archers cookbook, tightly controlled balls of anger and Cath Kitson tablecloths.
There’s no great deal attempt at realism here, and a good few of the characters are caricatures, but that only serves to create a world (or in this case, an island) of the weird and wonderful. In that sense, it’s somewhat inspired, as Solon herself remarks, by the books authoured by the likes of Enid Blyton, leading to a cute line regarding the age you’re allowed to be when reading books by people whose views may not match your own.
It all might feel somewhat whimisical and slight, but there’s carefully etched detail, never more so in the increasingly silly sequence in which members of an island council attempt to score points off each other, before the whole thing degrades into childish name-calling.
It’s a tightly constructed hour of very smart comedy, but it’s worth noting that, since the story is bookended by Laura herself – or at least, a version of a character of Laura that she’s willing to share – that Laura Solon is a very charismatic host, and it would be good at some point to see some story telling with a lot more (literally) of her actual voice. Aside from this, The Owl Of Steven is a clever hour of surreal comedy, occasionally bordering on a one-woman League Of Gentlemen style of show. A genuine pleasure.