Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: Claudia O'Doherty - Monster of the Deep 3D

[Original British Comedy Guide review here]

Claudia O'Doherty's show Monster of the Deep 3D has been laden with awards over in her native Australia and, if there's any justice, that happy trend will continue here at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The show takes the premise that Claudia is the last surviving inhabitant of a now blown-to-smithereens underwater base 'Aquaplex' which was established in the 1970s by a pan-continental committee in order to ready humankind for the coming apocalypse, whatever shape it may take (assuming it involves some sort of massive flood.) With Aquaplex destroyed, she has now taken it upon herself to explain her former home, its people and culture, through the medium of a one-woman presentation complete with flashcards and a Q&A session she has written herself. It's a 'high concept' show, you might say.

The word 'whimsy' hangs heavy (well, as heavy as whimsy can hang) in the air and while to me there is no shame in that, for some it has become a rather mockable word. It is a whimsical premise of course, but those allergic to the idea should realise that Claudia is no shrinking violet, whispering her way through the set; instead she is a hugely dynamic, larger than life performer who fills her venue with energy. And the laughs are big and frequent - whether dancing along to Toto's Africa, doing a bit of verbatim theatre or giving us a guided tour of her self-made model of Aquaplex her turn of phrase, physical comedy and attention to the detail of her invented world are consistently funny and impressive.

All aspects of Aquaplegian (yup) life are covered, from the use of virtual reality 'Dream Helmets' to allow those more used to living on land to imagine they are back in a beautiful meadow to 'Emotionas', the underwater version of Christmas, which Claudia only slowly realises may have had previously undetected dark overtones actually during the presentation. The whole show is inventive and fun but there is one moment in particular that I would bravely state must be one of the most magical on the Fringe. To even hint at it would be a travesty - no-one should be denied the sense of wonder it evokes when a complete and beautiful surprise - but rest assured it is something genuinely special. And while you're resting assured, perhaps book a ticket.

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