What is The Telescope? Well, it's a cursed instrument that allows people to communicate across time, but it's also a McGuffin in O'Doherty's daring attempt to destroy standup comedy. The thing this most resembles is Von Trier's film The Five Obstructions (even if the rave sequence at the start isn't very Dogme). O'Doherty explains how she never wanted to be a comedian but was been indoctrinated by a cult/talent agency called The Nut House, before launching into a one-woman, multimedia piece of "difficult theatre."
It all goes pear-shaped pretty quickly, leaving O'Doherty with 45 minutes to fill while the multimedia bit of the play continues in the background. Oh, and she has a pavlovian reaction to certain noises which makes her tell embarrasing truths. Basically, it is a straight comedy show, but O'Doherty is trying to put as many obstacles between herself and the jokes as possible.
Judged as a piece of theatre, you'd say it was a cutting satire on the anxieties of many performers: sign for a big agency and you lose creative freedom; don't sign, and the lack of creative direction will lead to you looking like an amateurish idiot. Judged as a piece of comedy, you'd say it's bloody hilarious. O'Doherty scales every obstacle and arrives somewhere that's not just funny, but the precise polar opposite of Live At The Apollo.
Claudia O'Doherty: The Telescope, Underbelly Cowgate, until August 26 (not 13), 19:45, £10/£9http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/claudia-o-doherty-the-telescope
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