A Fringe debut to forget
This article is from 2008.
Of course, it’s daft to generalise, but when heavily-anticipated American stars have come across to the Fringe they’ve either blown us away or totally bombed. In the happy former camp are Demetri Martin, Kristen Schaal and Doug Stanhope. In the discredited latter zone reside Nancy Cartwright, Wendy Spero and now, regrettably, Carol Leifer. One of the writers on masterclass sitcom Seinfeld, Leifer is reputed to be the direct inspiration behind Elaine Benes. Had Leifer suddenly burst into Elaine’s bizarre kicky-leg, flicky-thumb dance routine, it would have been less awkward than the atmosphere she creates seconds after taking to the stage here.
Naturally delighted to be at the Fringe for the first time, Leifer abandons any thoughts she may have had about connecting with her crowd and simply launches into a series of monologues from her life. Mind you, these are not monologues performed from her heart and acted out with passion; these are tales she is reading directly off some sheets of A4. Apparently a bunch of publishers are interested in turning her tales into a book next year, as she gleefully informs us at the beginning of the hour (well, 45 minutes tops). What we have been promised is a ‘one-woman show’, ie one woman shows us a bunch of print-outs and reads off them.
The stories within (about her taking up lesbianism, deciding to adopt a child and seeing the Beatles perform at Shea Stadium when she was a child) are bland, unfunny and nowhere near as moving as she thinks they must be. Perhaps she couldn’t be bothered or maybe she’s been poorly advised. Either way, Carol Leifer’s heralded Fringe arrival, like the sitcom that helped make her name, is a show about nothing.
The GRV, 220 2987, until 24 Aug, 4pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).