"I'm looking for polished anarchy": Cariad Lloyd returns to Edinburgh Fringe
Five star comedienne on Austentatious and comedy freewheelin'
This article is from 2012.
Only at the Fringe could you be rewarded for previous success by being offered a venue even smaller and sweatier than the one that you started out in. This is exactly the situation that the diminutive and dynamic character comic Cariad Lloyd finds herself in this year. Her move from the Free Fringe to the Pleasance is, however, one of the tangible benefits of being nominated last year as an Edinburgh Comedy Award newcomer.
‘It changed my life,’ says Lloyd of her celebrated show, Lady Cariad’s Characters, and its cavalcade of dysfunctional misfits, ‘but then Edinburgh in general had already done that.’ Lloyd’s gratitude for her festival appearance of 2011 was brought into sharp relief even before she arrived. At the time she was working at a London college just after the Education Maintenance Allowance was withdrawn. ‘I had kids coming in saying, “I can’t afford to eat this week”, so as you can imagine, all my Edinburgh reservations went out of the window. I knew how lucky I was to be able to do this festival for a month.’
Now Lloyd is able to live by performing and writing, and she’s since found herself an agent, appeared in E4’s Cardinal Burns and written for radio shows including Newsjack. Despite these fresh avenues opening up and preparing for her new show (which will feature some characters from last year including Andrew, the seven-year-old stand-up), Lloyd will still find time to appear in a Regency comedy romp, Austentatious, and late-night improvised talk show, Monkey Toast.
‘The best stuff I have done in my life has been impro,’ enthuses Lloyd, who has travelled to America and Canada to perform and also worked with the late Ken Campbell. Impro and Fringe theatre were the two loves Lloyd pursued after university and her skill with spontaneity is still employed in her character work, ensuring that every show is different. ‘If something happens, you run with it. There was one occasion last year when I tried to make someone my dad for the whole show, but that never happened again because there wasn’t a nice old man on the front row that would go with it.'
Lloyd’s 2011 Fringe campaign complemented humble goals with an ideal sequence of events to give her a dream start and finish. A short preview piece in a national newspaper, a promotional quote from Rob Brydon (The Marion and Geoff star had previously retweeted a short film Lloyd was in) and a clutch of early five and four-star reviews gave the energetic performer offstage momentum. She missed out on a BBC News spot thanks to events in Libya but, save for international mishaps beyond her control, it was a build-up that debut solo shows would kill for.
‘Polished anarchy’ is what Lloyd is looking for this year in terms of feel. Regards exposure, she remains grounded: ‘I have the same expectations as last year, as long as there are a few people in every day and they are enjoying it, then I will consider the job done.’ But Lloyd doesn’t deny that her buzz has set the bar high. ‘By the time of the nomination I had 20 people in the corridor trying to see in around the door.’
The Freewheelin’ Cariad Lloyd, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 4–27 Aug (not 14), 4.45pm, £9–£10 (£7–£9). Previews 1–3 Aug, £5.