Sophie Pelham: Country Files

The trip from busy Edinburgh to sleepy Wiltshire is down a short flight of stairs and through a door, upon which you’re greeted with complimentary sherry (dry or sweet, your preference) and a few mini sausage rolls. Sophie Pelham’s one-woman show dissects country life, with varying results.

There are some good gags and enough there for a decent show, if some of the deadwood is cast off.

Pelham plays an array of rural characters, from Lord Ponsanby of the manor (slightly racist but, all in all, a bloody good chap!), to young mother of twins, retired model Sulky Waterboat, to a fish-out-of-water cockney fox. Pelham is a decent comic actor with a particular knack for accents, but what lets the show down is the writing. Though it’s all caricatures, even at that the characters are too two-dimensional. Most of their sketches fizzle out, and when they don’t, you can’t help but wondering where the whole thing is going.

One thing that would help immeasurably would be some sort of narrative or through-line for the show. The characters just flit in and out, not one suggesting the arrival of the next or providing much needed continuity or momentum. Fair enough, introducing a narrative arc might mean dropping one or two characters but that would be no bad thing if it gave the show a sense of direction. Also, a backing track for the badger rap (surprisingly good!) would definitely make it one of the show’s stronger sections.

Pelham has great stage presence and is very comfortable interacting with the audience when in character. The overriding sense though is that the piece is still being workshopped. There are some good gags and enough there for a decent show, if some of the deadwood is cast off.

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The Blurb

What do UKIP supporting Lord Ponsanby, retired model Sulky Waterboat and alcoholic do-gooder Vanessa the Undresser have in common? Nothing... except a postcode. Character comedian Sophie Pelham (BBC: Miranda, Reggie Perrin) returns to the festival after the 2014 hit, Marigold with a joyous satirical romp through rural village life in all its curtain twitching glory. 'Extremely funny' (Stage), 'Fantastical funny... forcing those who watch to laugh aloud even while squirming within' **** ( **** (Ham & High).

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