Eleanor Thom: I Am Bev – Edinburgh Fringe review

A fine first outing for Sheffield housewife Bev, but her creator Eleanor Thom should show a little killer instinct

The various members of sketch sextet Lady Garden have now repotted themselves into different comedy incarnations, and it is Eleanor Thom who has made the first stab at a solo show, and in Sheffield housewife with big ideas Beverley Hill, she has a character that justifies the leap. With leopard print leggings, peroxide blonde hair, an entire branch of Claire’s Accessories on her wrists and “boobs that are both a blessing and a curse”, she is like an X Factor-era Liz McDonald (wrong side of the Pennines I know). Bev is convinced that her modest talents are her ticket to TV stardom, and her twin goals in this show are to impress a BBC exec, and, oddly, to take the audience on a bus tour of Edinburgh. Provided Derek the driver can find his way to the venue. It’s a strange combination but one that somehow works. Her speech patterns are straight from the Alan Bennett/Victoria Wood school of over-the-fence tittle tattle, laced with “I said to her …” or “she said to me …” Occasionallly a beautifully phrased detail seeps through, such as the Tunnock’s factory worker who has a way with a palette jack, and I really enjoyed her introduction to Sheffield and its claims to fame. It’s a fine character study and Bev is a pleasure to be in the company of, but it’s under-developed so far and there are a few gimmicks that are pleasing but, you suspect, padding. Thom plays for laughs far less than she could do, with lots of time devoted to setting up a joke or illustrating Bev’s character. Roger’s involvement in the women’s swimming lessons is a routine that doesn’t justify its length for example, and her reasons for not having children are perfectly reasonable and don’t develop into jokes. Perhaps there’s meant to be a genteel, unhurried side to Bev and hard punchlines wouldn’t sit right, but Bev has arrived a fully rounded character whose comic potential is there to be mined. More often than not, Thom gets the laughs she pitches for – she should go for the jugular a bit more. There’s also probably a whole show in her relationship with her “husband” Richard or her Partridge-esque overtures towards the Beeb. As it is, Thom appears to be testing the waters with this show and it’s a successful one for her and lots of fun to watch. Next time round, Thom should think as big as Bev does. 3 stars Review written by Paul Fleckney • Eleanor Thom: I Am Bev – 3.10pm at the Pleasance Courtyard

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