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Claudia O’ Doherty: Pioneer, Soho Theatre.

| Comedy | 26/09/2013


Claudia O’ Doherty is a quirky Australian who’s built a glowing reputation on the back of some extremely imaginative Edinburgh shows. She’s become increasingly well known, on the circuit at least, for delivering innovative comedy that does away with the old clichés.  With her latest critically acclaimed Fringe show now at the start of it’s run in London, I headed down to the Soho Theatre to see if Pioneer could do justice to the hype.

The first thing to say about Pioneer is that Claudia spends a large portion of it encased in a giant television.  With images projected in front of her and behind, she seemingly blurs the boundaries between audience member and voyeur.

Utilising this multi-screen stage layout in ever more surprising ways, Claudia builds her story up in chapters.  There are razor sharp tangents, bizarre interludes and outlandish statements aplenty.  It’s a synchronised mess; one that toys with technological failings but always comes out winning. The success of it is testament to O’ Doherty and her gravitational personality pulling it all together like a tiny Australian planet.

Production Company ‘Invisible Dot’ have become synonymous with this type of innovation and it’s great to see them maintaining their great run of form.  This is a show structured on the foundations of a happy marriage between theatricality and technicality.  In less capable hands the on stage gadget could have seemed like a gimmick; in Claudia’s it works like a cheese fuelled dream.

Taking a satirical swipe at corporate sponsorship, O’ Doherty plays with the uneasy relationships that exist between artistic integrity and big money contracts.  Claudia’s childlike warmth, contrasts starkly with the sinister undertones emanating from the titular ‘Pioneer’ company.  This may be an odd assortment of abnormalities, but it is also a piece that poses philosophical questions of life, love and comedy.

Revelling in the creation of her own conventions, Claudia O’ Doherty plays the comedy game by her own rules.  Impossible to pigeonhole, she’s like nothing else out there.  A whirlwind of conceptual eccentricity, she’s likely to steal your heart with this particular peculiarity.  A blast of refreshing menthol to the mouth of comedy, this is a spoonful of the nonsensical future.  It’s an hour of side splitting innovation that revels in the delights of it’s own high-tech silliness.  Sprinkled with surprises, this is a patisserie cupcake dressed up like a Sega Mega Drive.

Part art installation, part mind-bending experience; Claudia O’ Doherty’s latest is a must see for alternative comedy fans.  It will remind you that jesting can be so much more than a man and his microphone.  For this, and countless other reasons, we’re giving Claudia and her giant television a huge thumbs up.

She’s on at the Soho until the 5th of October.  Don’t miss out.

By Jack Clayton (@BilboTalk).

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