Tuesday 27th September

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Suzi Ruffell: Common review

| Comedy, Festivals | 24/08/2016


Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Ruffell narrates a heart-warming and funny tribute to her family in this very personal piece about working class roots and resilience.

This is a very solid set from Suzi Ruffell.  Common is well-written, warmly told and concludes nicely.  She told me recently that it was meant to express pride for where she’s from – real working class roots back in Portsmouth – and that message comes across loud and clear.

But more than that, the show’s a homage to her dad who – despite making fun of his geezer ways, naive business deals and clumsy acceptance of her lesbian lifestyle – Ruffell seems to admire more than any other.  The show begins and ends with him: his constant reminders for Ruffell to stay lucky, be herself and show resilience seemed funny at the start, but go on to serve her well.

The show’s also very funny in places, weaving in a number of entertaining stories from growing up in Pompey with her dozen cousins, more recent faux pas (including an entertaining encounter with a God botherer “who had clearly seen so many Fuck Off Eyes, that she thought they were just eyes”), and Ruffell’s increasingly settled home life with her partner and adopted girl (a cat).

Despite that, I found myself wanting a bit more, given Ruffell’s talent.  But in striving so hard to give her family the credit they deserve, I felt that her focus stayed too narrow, leaving quite a few laughs along the wayside.  I should add that the couple I was with didn’t agree with me, and many of Ruffell’s Fringe reviews have been more glowing.  And maybe my expectations were unrealistic for such personal piece, but it’s what many would expect from such a popular comedian with a burgeoning reputation.

Of course, the show will only improve as Ruffell gets more comfortable with the material and gets more opportunities to improvise than she did during this performance.  To that end, her upcoming tour with Tom Allen – in which the pair will attempt to link and overlap their sets – could be the perfect platform for developing Common into something truly hilarious.

Suzi Ruffell is performing Common at 20.20 at Just The Tonic @ The Mash House until 28th August.  For tickets, head here.  For details of her upcoming tour with Tom Allen, see Suzi’s official website or follow her @SuziRuffell on Twitter.

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