Pernilla Holland: Character Tålks
A manic and madcap hour of crazed but vaguely familiar characters
For infectious energy alone, Pernilla Holland pushes herself over the finishing line with the rather punishing Character Tålks. Also honing her ad-libbing skills in the Notflix improvised-musical team, Norway's Holland rips apart any measure of decorum with her failed (and manically gyrating) Eurovision contender who possesses an ill-judged valuation of their abilities. Meanwhile, the dogmatic motivational leader is too standard a trope in character comedy to be even attempted without adding something fresh to that archetypal figure: there's no such innovation here.
The pace is substantially if only temporarily dialled down as we're introduced to the introspective and hugely awkward accountant who is also an environmentalist blogger in their spare time. Perhaps Holland simply struggled with a punchline for this scene, but the over-riding feeling is of a tacked-on secret life for her bean-counter in place of an actual gag to round it off.
For sheer ludicrous fun, though, the rabid biscuit-offering church warden might be the cream of her crop, but even she overstays her welcome after a third visit. With wonderfully expressive facial gymnastics and an admirable commitment to her madcap creations, Holland could eventually take them to some good places. But she needs to enlist quality writing to facilitate that process.
Just the Tonic at the Mash House, until 28 Aug, 1.20pm, £8–£9 (£6–£6.50).