Edinburgh Review: Celia Pacquola

It’s not easy to tell how good Celia Pacquola actually is, but her debut Edinburgh show is still a good hour of comedy, writes Paul Fleckney.

Celia_Pacquola1Just because a comic can use props, doesn’t mean they should. For every show where they enhance, there are nine where they detract. Celia Pacquola gets it right, littering her show with props, gimmicks and musical interjections that are more about putting on a show than fiddling about for the sake of it.

Her award-winning Am I Strange? is about discovering her boyfriend’s prolific infidelity, and her reaction to it. The way she introduces it, Pacquola is rightly aware of how hack and off-putting this sounds, but we are in safe hands and she treats us to a multi-sensory take on her story.

Every few minutes she reaches down to a pile of phrases or pictures (paranoia, conscience etc), lobs one onto a black screen onstage and talks about it. Rather like how weathermen used to treat their sunshines and rainclouds in the 1980s. Then there is a neat switching between Pacquola telling the story and delving into her mind. This is achieved by a click of the fingers, which plunges the stage into near darkness for a brief soliloquy, then click, and out.

There is more than enough in the way of charisma, charm and funny threads of logic to make this a good hour of comedy. The only problem with using props is they can be there to make up for a shortfall in innate comic ability. Whereas, for instance, Tom Basden (admittedly a more experienced comic) clearly has plenty in the locker, it’s hard to tell with Pacquola as her digressions are a mixed bag, so we’ll have to wait and see, but still this is a fine debut.
Three stars
Celia Pacquola – Am I Strange? is on until August 31 (except 17) at 7.45pm at the Gilded Balloon. Click here for tickets.

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