Nel (3 stars)

This article is from 2016


Whimsical, feelgood show about a socially inept sound-effect artist

There's a great Fringe show waiting to be made about Foley work – the cabbage-and-celery, trays of gravel, whirring whisks sound-effect work that we hear without ever really realising on just about all movie soundtracks. Likeable and feelgood though it is, Nel from south-west England's Scratchworks Theatre Company isn't quite it.

Which might be simply because the show's live sound effect work, although spot-on accurate and often very funny, still feels a bit like an add-on. The real focus is the show's eponymous heroine, a shy, introverted Foley artist, more at home rubbing hot water bottles to create the noise of a car chase than actually interacting with colleagues and friends. When her boss insists she present at a conference, her aunt lectures her on interior design and she finds herself in a needy new friendship, things start to unravel.

Multi-tasking between acting, singing, puppetry and, of course, those succulent sound effects, the four-strong cast throw everything they have into the show, and the result is a high-energy, constantly entertaining, laugh-out-loud hour of touching whimsy, even if its structure could do with tightening, and its themes clarifying. Nevertheless, Nel must have the most charming, humorous outro anywhere on the Fringe.

Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug (not 15), 3pm, £8.50–£10 (£7.50–£9).


  • 3 stars

Scratchworks Theatre Company 'A love song to imagination' (Plymouth Herald). Meet Nel: a foley artist. She brings films to life through sound. In her world, epic fight scenes are a symphony of snapping celery and cracking rhubarb. Nel is good at this stuff – it's the rest of her life that's a disaster. She needs help and…