Singular actor and writer of
Each character is as well-formed as the next
The writing is a perfect send-up of that tired X-Factor jargon: ‘This has been my life-long dream, I’m going to give it 110%, etc etc etc.’ She tells us she’ll be performing a Madonna song. She does, with no backing track - and no concept of the actual tune. It’s awful, and it’s perfectly on point.
Only a few lines into the song, things start to turn. The girl is possessed by a spirit - it appears that summoning the dead is this character’s real talent. What follows are a series of quick, clever character sketches, as a host of the dead turn up one by one to ruin the aspiring popstar’s audition attempts. We meet a church community leader who’s dealing with a biscuit theft; a rich elderly woman planning to leave his fortune to his macaw, Terence; an Eastern-European woman faced with a moral dilemma between her citizenship papers and her predatory tutor, and finally a teenager trying to convince their disinterested mother that they’re the next Derren Brown.
Each character is as well-formed as the next - especially impressive is the structure of the monologues, which manage to convey the situation despite offering only singular sides of a conversation. Mackenzie’s showcase of accents, postures, gesticulations come at us, one after the other.
This is precisely what makes Clairvoyant an unsatisfactory show. While it’s an impressive showcase of Mackenzie’s talents, that’s really all it is - a showcase. The conceit of the other characters being spirits by whom she’s possessed is confusing and doesn’t lead anywhere - it’s not clear why we’re seeing these moments from their lives, or why they’ve had any reason to come back via this forced seance at all. The framing character of the hopeful (hopeless?) popstar doesn’t develop between each spirit’s appearance, so the whole package of the show feels short of any purpose.
Each character is strong, and there’s no doubt by the end that Mackenzie is a capable and flexible comic actress - it just would have made more sense to sell the whole thing as a one-woman sketch show, rather than mould it into the flimsy pretence of having something more to say.