My Obsession

Suki Webster's debut play explores the relationship between comedians and their superfans. Fictional stand-up comic Danny Hayward (Paul Merton) is awoken one night in his soulless hotel room by Cheryl (Webster), an obsessive, wide-eyed fanatic who has broken in to meet her idol.

Inexplicable curveballs and changes in Danny and Cheryl's motivations come thick and fast and the direction of a scene often changes, seemingly without reason.

There are gags aplenty and some half-decent musings on ideas of fame and celebrity. Danny is a perpetual almost-famous comedian, stood on the precipice of greatness, who craves the love and affection of his people. In Cheryl he finds, possibly, the never ending supply of platitudes and adulation he needs. Cheryl, on the other hand, is surprisingly underwritten.

Whilst Danny is by no means a deep, complex character, he still leaves an impression of who he is; Cheryl is many conflicting, unrelated things. It's not that she as a character is conflicted - quite the opposite - but Webster appears to have thrown one too many ideas Cheryl's way. First Cheryl's the aforementioned obsessed fan, easily rattling off the dates and publications of Danny's interviews. Then she's a coy maiden, then a sex hungry beast who has brought her own music and illuminations. Then, bizarrely, she becomes a world-wizened judge of Danny's character. “You don't have to work on a farm 14 hours a day,” she shouts at Danny after he whines about not quite making it. “You don't live in a country where speaking your mind gets you killed”. All this from a woman who early on is described, rightly so, as “a bubble-head barmpot”.

This uncertainty in character often makes the emotional arc of this short play hard to follow - inexplicable curveballs and changes in Danny and Cheryl's motivations come thick and fast and the direction of a scene often changes, seemingly without reason. However, the set-up lays down a solid foundation for some good narrative-based jokes as well as leaving space for slightly zanier irreverence akin to Webster and Merton's impro roots. The duo's performances are good, with Webster achieving a perpetual bewilderment and dizziness that certifies her character's ability to break into a hotel room and see no wrongdoing.

Although lacking in direction at times, My Obsession is a decent debut which, with a little more focus on why the characters are doing what they're doing, could be a charming Fringe delight.

Reviews by Andy Currums

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The Blurb

Paul Merton joins Suki Webster in this superb new comedy play about a stand-up meeting his number one fan. Thirty minutes of obsessive fun somehow packed into half an hour. Written by Suki Webster. Directed by John Nicholson. Paul Merton: ‘Razor sharp wit’ (Daily Telegraph). ‘The best in the business… Close to perfect’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). Suki Webster: ‘Hilarious’ (Guardian). ‘Excellent’ ***** (Daily Mirror).