Natalie Palamides: LAID
- Claire Sawers
- 10 August 2017
Hidden depths and nurturing theatrical comedy from surrealist act
Underneath the Alice in Wonderland ribbons and twee mannerisms lurks an expert messer. Natalie Palamides is a young surrealist comedian from Pittsburgh who's been training lately with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, an improv troupe co-founded by Amy Poehler, with members including Broad City's Ilana and Abbi, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianakis.
Palamides' Fringe debut is dark and original, one gory scene in particular is so creepily well-executed it might still be bringing on wincing flashbacks days later. Starting out deliberately slow, with Palamides hatching from a giant egg, she explores the scene with Snow White innocence. There's an excellent tension that grows between little girl gaucheness and an utterly in-control evil puppetmaster, pulling her audience's strings with very finessed nonchalance. Her squeaky voice morphs well into cartoony children and Gone With the Wind Southern belles, and echoes the sinister but sweet style of New York comedian Kristen Schaal, who also has a background in improv.
She's written the whole show around eggs, pulling them from what seems like an endless hidden stash up her skirt. Every day she lays one and faces the same dilemma: should she eat it or nurture it? Using the eggs as a loaded, edible metaphor, she casually explores femininity, motherhood, abandonment, romance, cooking and paedophilia, all while splattering her tarp-covered set with yolk and shaving foam.
An experimental theatre show with (occasionally forced) audience participation, LAID is unsettling comedy played with just the right amount of surprises and sassypants confidence. Although many of the Upright Citizens Brigade have gone on to do mainstream TV and films, Natalie Palamides is still having fun in the weirdo hinterlands of comedy; but it feels like she could turn her hand to that stuff too if she wanted. Who knows what else she has up her sleeve (or frilly knickers)?
Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 14), 4.15pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).