Ursula Burns is the Fringe’s own Kate Bush. With a harp
There’s quite the comic curiosity going on at the Stand V. Ursula Burns is a Belfast-born comic whose performing career has involved running away with the circus, running away from the circus, and a horse-drawn theatre company.
Now she finds herself at the Edinburgh Festival with a batch of beguiling comic songs played on a mini harp. And while she never quite roused a low-energy lunchtime crowd into anything approaching fever, she showed an impressive knack for musical comedy. Whereas other comic songwriters try to cram in jokes, and therefore rely on lyrics (and specifically rhymes) for the punchlines, I think they work better as an overall sense of a comic situation. Burns’s songs are simple and clear and aren’t overloaded with forced lyrics.
Also her charisma and professionalism help things along by mixing up the delivery, taking her time, and quickening and slowing whenever appropriate. Many of the songs are self-referential, about her urging friends to divorce or how she hates being asked to play at funerals. Another chronicles her own birth.
In between times she reveals herself to be a Mother Earth sort (as if her hippy get-up wasn’t clue enough), ranting about the danger of franking and singing about the Lake Isle of Innisfree (following a recital of the WB Yeats poem of the same name), and the threat of it being build on – a sort of Big Yellow Taxi update.
Burns is a professional eccentric, the Fringe’s own Kate Bush: theatrical and wafty of dress, and her show is a perfectly pleasant way to spend a lunchtime.
Review by Paul Fleckney