Emma Sidi manages to squeeze in all of our favourite soap opera tropes, from relationship problems to paternity tests, drug addiction to hot-headed murder (don’t worry no spoilers), as she romps through this histrionic hour of riotous character comedy.
Vastly entertaining and talented
As you might have gathered, the running theme of Telenovela is television. The central character, Vanessa, brings us televised dramatisations of her life, performed in anglo-friendly Spanish and then offers analytical debriefs in English. Interludes bring us a couple of other wacky characters, familiar to those who caught Sidi’s last Edinburgh show, Character Breakdown. Punctuating the episodes are bursts of contemporary dance - one of Vanessa’s more troubling/amusing addictions - much of which is funny but also impressively good.
Sidi brings relentless energy and commitment to every moment of the show, complementing its melodramatic content with some enjoyably subtle characterisation, also making generally fabulous use of the eyebrow lift. She is a consistently engaging performer who uses facial expression and tone of voice to hilarious effect. Packing in the audience interaction, Sidi’s ad libbing is entertaining and controlled, never breaking character in the slightest. The Spanish sing-along is an endearing highlight of the show. The best bits of the show are the tangents that get most surreal, notably Vanessa’s encounter with an especially aggressive gnome.
Considering her skill as a performer, it would have been interesting to see Sidi progress further from her previous show as the two feel distinctly interchangeable. While it was fun to meet some of her characters for a second time - and they are very strong characters - it comes across at points as a lack of versatility, a decision not to challenge herself. That said, she is vastly entertaining and talented, with superb command of her vocal and physical presence onstage. Definitely worth catching.