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
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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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