Ingrid Oliver @ Pleasance Courtyard

The gift of the gab is explored in Ingrid Oliver's character show

Review by Ben Venables | 15 Aug 2017
  • Ingrid Oliver

Ingrid Oliver's show is about people talking, and usually that means it is all one way traffic. This is particularly the case with one of her creations: an entitled social media feminist on the hands-free while driving through Los Angeles, with road rage periodically grabbing the wheel.

Speech! indeed has perceptive things to say. Its main character gives a TED Talk on politics and this bookends the show. It takes us from stagefright to oratory and a closing message that 'things can only get better' suggests a subtext about how much we should trust rhetoric. Interspersed in all the sections, hiding the costume changes, are real life clips which illuminate or question the segment. These have mixed results. There's a shock jock who just wants to use the radio to make a Twitter storm and the comparisons to Katie Hopkins and Milo Yiannopoulos are a tad too obvious, even without a clip of the latter. But then a section with an overbearing stand-up who takes a comedy course to teach impressions, flicking through the faces of bland MPs with tips on how to get into character, nicely touches on the surreal. There's also something technically ambitious about a European Union interpreter going through the five stages of grief, which has a little too much going on today but it has a strong idea at its heart.

An officious administrator elected on to the student council is a little familiar, but overall Speech! is a stronger show for its neat concept. Oliver's natural skill and talent make this more than a character showcase and one which certain creations could break out with a hour of their own. 

Ingrid Oliver: Speech!, Pleasance Courtyard (That), 2-27 Aug (not 14), 4,30pm, £6-9