Laura Solon – Rabbit Faced Story Soup

David Shone 3 February 2010

7pm 29th Friday January 2010 – The Junction

4/5

Adapted from her 2009 Edinburgh show to meet the demands of a “world” tour, Rabbit Faced Story Soup is a romp through the world of publishing, a world populated by the eccentric voices that audiences have come to expect from Laura Solon.

It is an interesting departure from the sketch-based comedy that has won this talented comic so much critical acclaim in the past five years. Though we are immersed in the offices of the ailing Black Publishing Co., it often feels as Solon is leading the audience on an outlandish tour of her own imagination. What a relief.

A lackluster narrative disappoints in what is an otherwise hilarious show. Solon seems to be uncomfortable with stand-up, offering only twenty minutes of it before the audience is packed off to the bar to fuel up for the second half. In a structure as schizophrenic as some of her characters, we are then offered an hour of narrative comedy, following the travails of Diana Lewis as she negotiates literary agents, Russian oligarchs and errant authors.

It’s not quite convincing enough, though it does offer a setting for the character studies that have earned Solon her reputation. Punchy one-liners are delivered alongside longer skits, taking in pompous French radio presenters, chardonnay-swilling forty-somethings and anal-retentive taxidermists along the way.

These are, as ever, brilliantly observed and even more adeptly delivered, her energy and turn of phrase captivating the audience. Given the absurd eccentricity of her characters, this proves important. My initial cries for plausibility were soon silenced by the curious privilege of insight with which Solon allows us into her world. Her talent for this style of performance is overwhelming, something made all the more impressive by the fact that the show was conceived, written and performed with the only help coming from the stuffed sidekick alluded to by its title.

What might be lost in structure is made up for in gags, often sharply observed and far from the comfortable, Radio 4 style of comedy that one could, given the average age of the audience, be forgiven for expecting. Quips about stilettos (“tart stilts”), public schoolgirls and Missy Elliot go down particularly well, revealing an acerbic note that is concealed by Solon’s calm, endearing presence on stage.

It is an eclectic show, but one presided over by tremendous talent. Hitting up three of the UK’s four corners, her tour is about to go “global”. Don’t miss out.

David Shone