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.
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.
Celia Pacquola – Am I Strange? is on until August 31 (except 17) at 7.45pm at the Gilded Balloon. Click here for tickets.