Emma Sidi: Character Breakdown

★★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

It's telling that the first creation we encounter here speaks in an unrecognisable, made-up accent. Detached from whatever preconceptions may be associated with specific geographical regions, the audience is forced to interpret her monologue as character comedy in the purest sense. We recognise some of her mannerisms and turns of phrase, but the woman is no stereotype. She's a detailed, lovingly crafted oddball. Emma Sidi will later revive her and offer a surreal explanation for these baffling vocal inflections, but 'Britta' remains an entirely original construct.

The comedian isn't here to satirise or parody, but to indulge an absurd, creative sensibility. When she does present us with nationalised characters, it's to exploit the humour inherent in their dialects. A Spanish lecturer delivers an expressive, passionate sermon on the Harry Potter series' feminist agenda, before an American whines about the travails of raising children. Neither is defined by their intonation, which simply complements a pre-existing catalogue of grotesque traits.

Performing bizarre, expressive dance between skits, Sidi fluidly transitions from character to character and ensures her energy doesn't flag over the hour. The former Cambridge Footlight performs with controlled grace, while her writing is so rich and rewarding that some gags are found buried beneath the audience's laughter.