Adele Cliff is no mindless follower, a point she’s very keen to address. Scarred by a moment in high school that sends her into a self-identification spiral, Cliff showcases a debut hour of standup exploring our simultaneous needs to fit in and stand out. Sheep is an entertaining first outing: some choice puns can be found in Cliff’s writing, though they’re often padded by a structure which is still a little woolly round the edges.
Cliff has a natural nervous energy which sells her persona immediately.
Cliff has a natural nervous energy which sells her persona immediately. Type As in the audience are bound to relate to Ciff as she asserts her keen eye for academia and competitive nature, undercut by a sense that she doesn’t quite fit in with her peers. It’s particularly delightful watching Cliff’s family dynamics unfold on stage, revealing her insecurities around her two younger (and according to Cliff, more successful) sisters. Here Cliff is at her most relatable, and her self-deprecation comes entwined with genuine affection for the sisters she’s jealous of.
Perhaps it’s the persona bleeding into Cliff’s standup style, but her nervousness can sometimes undermine those stronger puns. Stopping to check the audience know their Schrödinger for some choice quantum physics jokes (a sentence you don’t find yourself writing often) is all well and good, but at other moments in Cliff’s show, a swift glance to check a reaction seems to throw her out of the flow of material. This is naturally going to change with time and different audiences, true, but when Cliff’s confidence retreats, her punchlines suffer as a result. A few of these punch lines tread familiar ground as well, though Cliff keeps the show ticking along in such a way that it doesn’t feel we’re being walked in circles around the set.
Cliff grows into her stage time, and by the conclusion to the final anecdote it’s clear that this is a carefully planned show. Whether it needs a little herding in the middle to avoid rambling, that’s for time to tell.