It’s heartening to see a deserving standup successfully transfer from the Free Fringe to the larger potential audience of the mega-venues. This year marks the first Pleasance show for Rachel Parris, my absolute pick of last year’s Counting House programme with her show
Despite its slightly experimental nature, this is an extremely amusing show
I’m pleased to say Parris has not disappointed but, for fans of last year’s show, she is trying something a little different. Instead of the traditional format of last year - Rachel stood behind a keyboard, busting out songs interspersed with surreal context from her life. This time round, she’s trying a few characters out in the form of an Vegas showcase.
Introducing this cavalcade of stars is... well... Rachel Parris. But a different Rachel, stranded after losing all her money gambling and now indentured to the terrifying Felice in an attempt to pay off her hotel bill.
The first guest act is posh mummy's-boy rocker Crispin Prentice whose middle-class anthems include the chorus to codependency, 'It's Hard Living at Home'. He's followed by my personal favourite, left-wing country singer Gracie-Lou Steinberg, a one-woman Dixie Chicks fighting the redneck bullies of Umbrage, Alabama. Closing the bill is the Diva-saurus Rex Felice - hair of a goddess, mind like a steel trap.
Parris injects all of these characters with her trademark sugar-coated darkness. While I still think she's at her most engaging when simply being herself, this kind of exploration of different styles is a vital stage in her career and it'll be interesting to see which characters she chooses to develop further. Regardless, all the parts on display here are biting and funny and the songs still sparkle. My one criticism would be that the plethora of costume changes interrupt the flow of the show and prevent Parris from playing live.
However, despite its slightly experimental nature, this is an extremely amusing show - one that you’ll leave with aching sides and a song stuck in your head.