Whilst in the Fringe Guide this show rests under the category of ‘Spoken Word’ with a subcategory of ‘comedy’ I’m not sure I could call it either, as although aspects of those genres are present in An Evening with Samantha they are far from the predominant or most excellent aspects of this experience. With a show containing conversations with the audience, a spoken word guest, anecdotes, memories and tap dancing, Samantha Mann (who is if you haven’t guessed from the show photo, a man in drag) invites you to spend a bizarre and unique evening with her.
The one thing I can be certain of from this piece is that Samantha is a consummate and delightful character: Nervous, well-spoken, eccentric, and dressed in a brown curly wig; glasses; white gloves; and a pea-green coat and long dark skirt, Samantha made me feel a contrary combination of unease and comfort throughout the show. I found myself utterly engaged in her character, waiting to see what she would do next. And it was always different; moving the audience through moods of apprehension, mild amusement and bemusement, Samantha ploughed on, tenderly recounting memories and anecdotes with intelligent and honeyed expression. Although most promoted a brief smile or perhaps chuckle from the audience, her anecdotes had a sad and vulnerable undertone that made you feel at times as though Samantha were confiding to you in an intimate conversation at a pub. Although I am not sure I (or anyone else in the audience for that matter) fully understood the tone of the piece, I found that I didn’t really care; I was promised an Evening with Samantha and that’s precisely all that I really got.
The whole performance reminded me of the experience of a cheap white wine; sweet, light and fruity, and perfect for getting a mild buzz on a low budget. Although neither good comedy nor spoken-word it was somehow quite special and I found I was rather charmed by the unconventionality of it all.