Lorna Rose Treen @ Pleasance Courtyard

A fascinating character comedy debut from hotly-tipped Lorna Rose Treen

Review by Emma Sullivan | 15 Aug 2023
  • Lorna Rose Treen

Character comedy has had a comeback this year, and in her Fringe debut Lorna Rose Treen overturns any lingering prejudices about the form. Skin Pigeon is a very funny and genuinely fascinating show, which has the audience both bemused and entranced by its oddness, and hooting with laughter.

Emerging from the heap of ragged clothes on the stage, Treen produces a gallery of skewed characters, with gothic, Edward Gorey-esque touches (or Tim Burton in the case of the cowgirl with guns for hands). The utter randomness is a significant part of the appeal: from the stolid but maniacal Brownie girl, to the noirish femme fatale and her perpetual cigarettes, and the spooky stalker, ‘the girl of your dreams’ who looms suddenly out of the darkness. The character of ‘average girl’, meanwhile, is anything but. The air of volatility is furthered by one particularly unexpected event which tilts the audience into hysterical laughter, and helps fuel the energy of the remaining sketches.

Treen leans into some profoundly bad gags – staring down the audience with an unblinking, deadpan gaze – and one character is there purely for the sake of a single terrible pun (it is clearly signposted as the ‘trough’ rather than the peak of the show). The deliberate wonkiness of it all is a big part of the appeal – and whilst Treen isn’t interested in constructing any kind of narrative about femininity, the show is underpinned by some acute observation all the same. The gorgeous silliness of spooky stalker girl, for instance, is also a study in miniature of feminine self-abasement. Gun hand girl, meanwhile, glances at the judgement handed down from mother to daughter. Lorna Rose Treen's characters are fantastical, but there’s method in the madness.

Lorna Rose Treen: Skin Pigeon, Pleasance Courtyard (Attic), until 27 Aug, 4.35pm. Run sold out; returns only