Sophie Willan: On Record (4 stars)

An uncontrived hour of bleak laughs about a tough childhood

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Sophie Willan: On Record

credit: Steve Ullathorne

Uh oh. Sophie Willan opens her show by crawling through seats from the back of the room, rubbing bald heads, twerking into awkward smiles in the crowd before bounding onstage like an MDMA-fuelled rubber ball. Thankfully, there is much more to Willan than her excitable, nervous intro would have you believe. She's way better than that breathless, zany schtick, which turns out to be just a clunky ice-breaker into a candid, well-written hour that gets darker, funnier and more relaxed as it goes.

Reading from a file by her various social workers, Willan recaps her childhood as the neglected kid of a heroin-addict mum, having an abusive boyfriend, being fired as an arsey Christmas elf, and up to recent therapy sessions on the NHS.

'Don't "aah" me, this isn't The Dog Rescuers: it's a comedy show!', the Boltonian insists, firmly steering things past any self-pitying pitfalls and into bleak belly laughs instead. Her impressions of family are solid, her mock comedy reviews are inspired, and the former 'baby from Trainspotting' has found an unapologetic comedy voice, turning what social workers labelled 'defiant and rude' into something wise, confessional and bloody funny instead. A gobby, very entertaining two-fingered salute to the 'hangover of poverty' with shed-loads of uncontrived charm.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, 4.45pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).

Sophie Willan: On Record

  • 4 stars

Bound & Gagged Comedy in association with UTC Artist Management Sophie Willan grew up in and out of care. At 23, the state unexpectedly delivered all of her personal files. In her highly anticipated debut stand-up comedy show, this very special rising star explores who she is today through the eyes of the numerous…

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