Sophie Willan: Novice Detective

Sophie Willian: Novice Detective is a stand up show homage to daytime TV detective programmes like Murder She Wrote and Poirot and when focused on these it’s about as good as you can reasonably expect. But this is really just the McGuffin to what this show is really about: Willian’s search for her unknown father. Here the show becomes deceptively poignant for a comedy show, creating what can only be described as The Lion King Effect, where you’re not sure whether you want to be laughing or crying.

If you’re on the case, Sophie Willian: Novice Detective deserves your skills of deduction.

There’s something inherently depressing about daytime detective shows – who are they for? –The retired? The unemployed? Mum and the baby, or you and your gran? Willian’s fascination (obsession?) with them is connected to missing her father as a child, and having the fantasy of being a detective and solving the case of just who her father may be. This takes her and her conspiracy-crazy Nan on a novice detective’s investigation to find him. What follows are gags where a man from the audience is turned into Willian’s assistant detective, forced to don a Poirot moustache and the coat, hat and mannerisms of Humphrey Bogart. It’s all quite fun but all rather odd as well; as we’re forced to play out Willian’s detective fantasies in the desperate teenage desire to find her father. There is some unfortunate dragging in the middle, once the detective idea has been played with for a while and the show reverts to audience focused gags. But then almost out of nowhere the show’s real emotional core kicks in and you’re laughing and feel like crying at the same time and you’re not sure which one is happening when.

Sophie Willian is a likable and witty comedian. Her show has its faults and may not appeal to everyone, especially if you have no interest in detective shows, but if you’re on the case, Sophie Willian: Novice Detective deserves your skills of deduction.

Reviews by Dave House

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The Blurb

Heart-warming and hilarious! Sophie tells unbelievable true story of how she and her slightly-psychic Gran, found her long lost father. It’s an interactive ‘who-is-it?’ fusing stand-up comedy and theatrical chaos to tell a story of fantasy, failure, grief, love, and ultimately of hope. In this whirlwind of a one-woman show, expect laughs, tears, confetti and lots of detective spoofery! ‘Bright emerging star!’ (BBC Comedy). ‘Beautifully written material delivered with real skill. Very funny!’ (Zoe Lyons).