Rachel Parris: Best Laid Plans

Parris has a seemingly natural knack for creating comedy imbued with emotional depth that doesn’t feel forced or insecure. Dividing her stage time between her piano and a correspondence with the Samaritans, Parris appears to hide behind her storytelling devices. However, this is more literal than figurative: the story Parris has come to tell lays her bare to the audience in a candid hour of musical comedy.

It’s slushy, yes, but it’s a much needed injection of schmaltz among a sea of cynical comics at the Fringe.

Bouncing back from a rough year, Parris finds herself taking stock of the expectations set out by her childhood self. Without the house, stickman husband or car, this might ring true for many other 30-somethings. Instead she’s saddled with responsibilities at other people’s weddings, public transport and the need to tell people about exercise regimes. Parris guides the audience through the trials and tribulations of growing up and going solo.

Parris’ flair at the piano means that her songs are accompanied by beautiful melodies- true, there’s the odd Elton John influence, but there’s musical skill to her takes on hen dos and bouquets to complement her gently humorous lyrics. They aren’t pieces that produce belly laughs, and offer more of a bemused outlook on life rather than biting commentary.

There’s not a moment of Parris’ performance that doesn’t feel real though: her feelings of helplessness cause her to float adrift, which seems a lifetime away from her confident assertion on stage. Best Laid Plans is a heartfelt showcase which isn’t bound to entertain everyone but is a surefire winner for those who too are feeling like they have to live up to unrealistic expectations.

Parris’ finale song is an uplifting anthem that raises a glass to everybody whose goals in life have inevitably changed since they were six: it’s slushy, yes, but it’s a much needed injection of schmaltz among a sea of cynical comics at the Fringe. 

Reviews by Louise Jones

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The Blurb

Rachel Parris (Austentatious, The IT Crowd, Murder in Successville) presents a collection of songs, stories and stand-up about not having it all. No house, husband, child, wage? No problem! Rachel Parris is an award-winning musical comedian and improviser. She was named the Independent's One to Watch, was nominated for a Chortle award and her songs are regularly played on BBC Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music. 'One sometimes doubts that Britain's got talent – but Parris has it in spades' (Guardian). 'A gifted performer' (Times). 'Uproarious' (Scotsman). 'Utterly captivating, very funny' (Jason Manford).