Sandi Toksvig My Valentine

As Toksvig scurries excitedly on stage, she triumphantly proclaims that she is returning to Edinburgh after over thirty years since her first Fringe Festival. Indeed, one could almost forget that Toksvig has had quite the dazzling comedic past before she settled into the more sober realms of Radio 4. However, not only has she still got it, she is downright delightful.

My Valentine is a warm and fuzzy nostalgia-trip, delving into her Danish heritage to explain how she came to sit so firmly in our British hearts. However, Toksvig never slips into a retrospective pessimism over the present; rather, My Valentine is all about loving life, especially when you don’t need to worry about wearing small knickers anymore. Ode to Joy, the show’s central motif, is apparently the soundtrack to her life, and while my innate cynicism attempted to resist her ‘Hoorah, isn’t everything fantastic’ mantra, I came away utterly converted. Indeed, she opened the show by announcing that she is now officially a British citizen; while at the beginning I thought this was lovely and all that, by the end I felt like hollering ‘Toksvig for Number 10’!

Her show is largely structured around highly amusing anecdotes about her extensive experience in show-business. Between a hairy trip in a wardrobe-hovercraft to collaborating with the likes of Emma Thompson, Toksvig really seems to have done it all. When recalling a three-month sailing trip with John McCarthy and five other blokes – in which she developed a compulsive addiction to wet-wipes – she conveys a genuine love for her friends that is sweet but never schmaltzy.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show was her celebration of the expansive English language. This was opposed to Danish, which, while having fifty words to describe herring, apparently pales in comparison. This provided a neat segue into a discussion on gender inequality within children’s books, and even an opportunity to plug her new book, Valentine Grey. Unfortunately, this part was slightly tenuous, and drifted from the tight comedy of her opening act. Indeed, in her attempt to love everything it became slightly unclear what her focus was. However, Toksvig’s characteristically sharp delivery and superb comic timing never faltered.

Toksvig said at the start that if we leave feeling happier than we came in, she would have done her job. Well Sandi, job well done.

Reviews by Emma Banks

Almeida Theatre

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★★★★
Battersea Arts Centre

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★★
National Theatre

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★★★

The Light Princess

★★★★

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★★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

Comedian, novelist, actor, broadcaster returns with her smash hit show. Host of Radio 4's News Quiz and QI panellist. Don't miss Sandi's hilarious afternoon of stand-up, stories and fascinating facts. ‘Captivating ... excellent’ (Times).