Catriona Knox @ Pleasance Courtyard

A sly twist on political impersonation that's a joy to watch, but doesn’t pack a punch

Review by Frankie Goodway | 14 Aug 2017
  • Catriona Knox

Catriona Knox invites us to meet the wives of monsters. Melania Trump; Asma Al-Assad; Kirsten Farage; even Philip May – a theme emerges. And then: Anne Boleyn. It’s not quite the leap from biting satire to costume drama that it seems. Unfortunately, that’s because the satire beforehand has little bite to speak of. It is a peculiar choice to spend so much of a show on impersonations, however fanciful, of political figures without really saying anything about their politics.

That’s not to say she’s not entertaining. Knox is wonderful to watch, expressive and unrestrained. Her vocal command is particularly impressive. She has an energetic start to her show, and among a scattering of more obvious Brexit and Trump jokes there are some real gems. Her impersonations are entirely detached from the real people that bear their names, and she exploits the comic potential here deftly.

There are also some subtler ideas at play. The Asma Al-Assad sketch revolves around complicity; it also involves the most audience interaction. But these two things are never drawn together, and the sketch, which Knox admits balances on a knife edge in terms of taste, doesn’t offer a killer blow. It’s a weakness that crops up throughout – scenes start strongly, but tail off without a clear wham line to end on. A firmer conclusion to each sketch would see us through the transitions on a laugh and perhaps pull the skits together into a punchier whole.

Catriona Knox: Adorable Deplorable, Pleasance Dome (Jack Dome), until 28 Aug (not 15), 6.50pm, £7-11