Character comedy can be difficult. Musical character comedy can be painful and difficult. Musical character comedy performed on a wet afternoon in Edinburgh can be painful, difficult and an uphill struggle, unless it’s performed by someone with real talent, commitment and a great voice. Luckily, Rachel Parris has all of these. However, in spite of her many talents, this show, whilst by no means a duffer, never really soars to the heights of success it really should or could do.
In a somewhat forced conceit we are taken to Las Vegas to watch three performers take to the stage at the Bette Midler Memorial Hotel. Parris opens the shows with a brief set-up as herself, warm, engaging and hugely likeable, before heading off to transform herself into Crispin Prentice, a rockstar with a decidedly English public school background, all banter and bravado. His ode to Ellie Goulding and song to his ‘mummy’ are fun and mildly amusing but don’t provide the big laughs the somewhat sleepy audience really require to lift them into life.
Parris’s second character, Gracie-Lou Steinberg, is far more successful. An edgy, white-trash country singer with the looks of Taylor Swift, the attitude of Johnny Cash and, more surprisingly, the political convictions of Peter Tatchell. She’s feisty, funny and far more three dimensional.
Finally, Parris unveils her star performer, the Sin City diva that is Felice, global superstar and musical icon. She’s exquisitely vacuous and vain and absolutely delicious. Inhabiting this killer queen, she also showcases her stunning improvisational skills with a genuinely funny song based around the audience’s suggestion of two words, tonight ‘Oooh’ and ‘Danon’.
The problem with the show is a structural one. Parris leaves the best till last and unfortunately a slightly weak opening means that, as a performer, she’s always on the backfoot trying to win back the packed room. However, although it may not be a perfect show, there are flashes of brilliance throughout and Parris shows that she has an incredibly impressive range of talents. It’s just a shame there aren’t more big laughs early on and, if I’m honest, I’d like to have seen more of her as herself.
‘Rachel Parris – Live in Vegas’ is at the Pleasance Courtyard, 4.30pm