Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: Nat Luurtsema - In My Head I'm A Hero

[Original British Comedy Guide review here]

Nat Luurtsema came to many people's attention in the fantastic sketch show Superclump at last year's Fringe where she performed alongside the likes of Mike Wozniak and Henry Paker, and it's fantastic to see that she is back in Edinburgh, striking out on her own in this accomplished solo debut.

"This is dangerously close to conversation" she says at the top of the show, referencing the few empty stools, but in fact 'conversation' is precisely what Luurtsema does best - it is one-sided conversation admittedly, but her style is so comfortable, so chatty and informal that, despite our lack of involvement it does feel like a good old chinwag with a close and very funny friend. The title of the show In My Head I'm A Hero comes from Nat's assertion that she spends most of her time daydreaming about coming to the aid of dozens in some huge disaster, just like in the movies - but the nearest she's actually come to fulfilling the dream is doing something approaching triage after seeing a bus very slowly career into a wall, resulting in precisely no casualties.

These opening discussions are enjoyable but not especially laugh-out-loud hilarious and it takes some time for the show to really kick into gear. Eventually though, we move away from Nat's current daydreams and back into her childhood, and it's here that the laughs really come - it's just a shame we do not get to this fertile territory sooner. Because fertile it is; Nat was a lonely child and to prove the point, she brings along her 'By Myself Book' outlining the rather sad activities that a young nerdy girl can go do on her own - and spins an excellent routine around it. She also gets great stuff from having been sent to a Freemasons school, where she took part in 'drill', aka rather spooky formation marching reminiscent of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on a severe budget. And yes, we are treated to a mini live performance.

Surprisingly, the story takes a rather serious turn, and we discover that while Luurtsema is forever fantasising about raging fires and kids trapped down a well, she was actually at the centre of a very personal crisis at the age of just twelve. The revelation sneaks up on you and gives the narrative a real edge - but again, the show might benefit from it coming a little earlier. Overall, though, this is a hugely enjoyable hour performed by a warm, witty comic with a vivid imagination, some lovely lines, and, you suspect, much more to come.

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