Claudia O'Doherty: Pioneer

'I got a lot of money from the electronics company Pioneer to put on a massive show!' shouts Claudia O'Doherty, as the word 'Pioneer' rises from screens both behind and in front of her. In her follow-up to last year's Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated 'Difficult Theatre' extravaganza The Telescope, everything O'Doherty says feels like it should have an exclamation mark after it. This time, O'Doherty seems to have left the serious stuff behind her and is on a mission, she says, to entertain every last person on this planet, starting with us.

Pioneer is a little more loosely structured than O'Doherty's past shows, with a few through-lines tying the piece together. One of these is concerned with the apparent sponsorship deal with Pioneer, which defines the show's aesthetic; another is made up of O'Doherty's disparaging remarks about her 'current boyfriend' – a series of asides with a very satisfying twist towards the show's ending; and another concentrates on her attitude towards her own personal failures. These things link together well and, if Pioneer lacks greater complexity of former shows, it makes up for it in one key way: it's bigger.

The huge projection screens, the lights, the pounding dance music: the obnoxiousness of O'Doherty's on-stage character is given full reign to try whatever gimmick she thinks will impress us – or wherever her own needs and insecurities take her. This style only really has one setting - loud - and disallows for any real variety or change in texture. Yet, everything is a piece of a psychological puzzle that tells us a little bit about O'Doherty's comedic persona. As weird as it gets – and believe me, it gets weird – we can always see how this character thinks: her surreal logic and secret desperation for the world's approval.

The laughter that Claudia O'Doherty creates seems to come out of a different part of my face than the laughter created by other comedians. It surprises me and catches somewhere between my nose and my throat. I can do two lines with only a smile, and then a third will have me laughing for minutes. She herself is a pioneer, charting new territory in character comedy. Where she will take this character next - especially now her growing audience must begin to impact on the sense of failure that's currently integral to the role - will be very interesting. Her dream of entertaining every last person on the planet must surely soon be in reach.

Reviews by Tom Moyser

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

A Tale of Two Cities: Blood for Blood

★★
Traverse Theatre

Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

Droll

★★★★
Summerhall

The Castle Builder

★★★
Summerhall

4D Cinema

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominee 2012, Claudia O'Doherty invites you to witness the annual spectacle that so far none of you have attended. Stunning production values with all of the usual things – horror, amazement, learning and Jeremy’s Hour.

Most Popular See More

The Prince of Egypt

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets