Laura Solon: The Owl of Steven

Laura Solon, winner of the Perrier Award in 2005, is a sweet, engaging storyteller, but her new show, a Blytonian adventure story about a quest to retrieve an owl from the island of Steven, is not quite funny enough to sustain an hour. There are gentle chuckles and smiles throughout, and some inventive little touches (one character has always assumed WWJD stands for Werewolf Werewolf Jason Donovan), but the jokes are a bit weak and the characterisation is no more than a caricature portrait gallery of faces one might see at a provincial parish fête (most of the women sound like Patricia Routledge). Lines like 'I do love my husband, but I do wonder what would happen… if I killed him', 'this is about as secret as Christmas' and 'I thought we could do with some massive tool… which is why I brought Barry' don’t exactly set the pulses racing. This is obviously a very personal show and one that stems from Solon’s childhood love of ‘racist’ Enid Blyton, but I wonder if Solon is trying too hard: the rhythm of the show is such that you know exactly when she is expecting you to laugh, like a slightly weak Radio 4 comedy show, and perhaps it is just too saccharine and genteel for its own good, which some people may love but which was only met with the mildest of titters by (a very full, and cramped) audience when I saw her. It is such a shame, because Solon has a lovely presence and the material before and after the actual story is quite fun, but the account of Steven’s Owl is neither exciting enough nor witty enough to justify an hour-long narrative. Perhaps some straight character stand-up next time?

Reviews by Ed Cripps

The Blurb

Steven is an island. Perrier Award winner Laura Solon returns with a brilliant new character comedy story about it. Contains owl. 'An adventurous and hilarious masterclass' (Sunday Times). **** (Guardian). **** (Telegraph).