Sophie Willan: Novice Detective
A mish-mash of theatrical narrative and comedy skits at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Sophie Willan presents a theatrical hour about the search for her estranged father. The detective genre is her theme, and the opening set-piece is a campy nod to the genre from Inspector Clouseau to the board-game Cluedo. After a promising opening, Willan sets the tone for what she expects from the audience over the next hour: uninhibited participation. Not even those in the back row are safe from her probing torch beam. With ‘volunteers’ in place, what follows is a mish-mash of narrative and skits padding out the short story of what happened with her dad.
The concept is a nice idea but the few parts of the show that engage with the detective tropes (like her chalkboard of accumulated clues) are tantalisingly brief. Some of the elements included at the expense of noir trappings are bewildering, such as an over-reliance on references from Casablanca and some physical prop comedy with a scarf. Her hectoring of the audience participant provided initial laughs but with diminishing returns.
The result does not make use of the genre’s potential and instead lands between pathos and humour, giving neither a chance. Half-baked rather than hard-boiled, the only mystery here is what to make of this disjointed hour.
Zoo Pleasance, 662 6892, until 25 Aug, 12.15pm, £8 (£7).