Kiri Pritchard-McLean creates a universe in the hot box room: dangling planets hang from the ceiling, and she wears a starry skirt and planet earrings to orbit her black-and-white hair. She sparkles as a performer too, and her material is honest and engaging.
A charming storyteller
Pritchard-McLean does not use a presentation, embedded sketches, or music as part of her act. In contrast to many of the stand-up shows this year, she remains in the more traditional format of simply talking at us for an hour. Fortunately she is a charming storyteller: her topics include body image, feminist reactions to weight loss, the appeals of selfish altruism, her internal debate about whether she would like biological or foster children, and the dilemma of wanting to be both a ‘good’ mum and a ‘cool’ mum.
It is only about halfway through that we realise there is a recurring narrative in her hour: a young girl she volunteered to help with, who Pritchard-McLean listened to as she went through her first relationship. The story itself is interesting and heartfelt, and the comedian structures it well to lead on to other sets. Pritchard-McLean tells it with honesty as well as playful self-criticism - she knows she wants the girl to have dramatic problems so she can feel better about herself. The hour ends with an important reminder that everyone has the time to volunteer, and that, especially in the current political climate, we must all make the effort to help where we can. Given this is the strong thread throughout the comedian's hour, it would have worked well to introduce the idea in her opening few minutes so that we were aware of where we were going.
The comedy highlight comes with her material about ‘the most ridiculous things that people didn't know’. This finally makes sense of her planet theme, as she describes the moment where she saw the man in the moon for the first time. Giving her own examples, which I won't spoil here, but which include a woman who thought Random was a place, and a man who thought certain landmarks were naturally occurring. She then asks the audience whether they have their own: eventually a sincere middle-aged man in the back row replies ‘I didn't know the Edinburgh Fringe existed until this year, and it's fantastic.’ Interesting and agreeable rather than side-splittingly funny, his answer fitted in well with the general tone of the show.