EFR - Reviews of Overlooked

Overlooked

Fri 1st – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Matthew Lavender

at 23:25 on 18th Aug 2014

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It is all too easy to write off a production purely on the basis of questionable first impressions. Anybody who relies on their initial intuitions about Overlooked risks making too hasty a judgement and writing off the show early on.

At first, audience members are made to feel slightly uneasy by characters who stray a little too far beyond the line of acceptable peculiarity, but as the show progresses its format becomes more transparent. A particularly strong finish, in which numerous characters are loosely brought together, means that by the end, the show can reasonably be described as pleasurable viewing.

The production stars Lizzy Mace as numerous different characters that were, to use the show’s official description, “…undervalued in their lifetimes, ignored by history, overlooked...”, such as the fourth bear in the Goldilocks fable or the true brains behind Emily Bronte’s greatest works. Its primary drawback is that, while some characters are very clever creations, some, such as the overlooked fruits, are simply too ridiculous. The moments in which these characters are the focus of attention are somewhat cringe-worthy for the audience.

This aside, there is much to praise in Mace’s performance, not least her impressive versatility and ability to depict numerous different characters whilst making each one unique and recognisable. Her decision to also impersonate her own disgruntled stage manager at both the beginning and the end of the piece is a smart idea, and lends itself to a touch of self-deprecation at the finale which helps to endear her to her audience.

The show’s strongest point is the way in which Mace grows into each of her individual characters after a few minutes of becoming them, so that by the end of each section, the character’s identity and purpose is clear. It is easy, at the outset of each different segment, to be baffled by the new personality she has taken on, but in time the back-story of the character reveals itself. Mace has structured the show superbly so that a very appropriate amount of time is dedicated to each different part.

On the whole, Overlooked does take some time to grow accustomed to, but once the idea behind the show becomes clear and you begin to connect with the characters, it is a rather enjoyable piece to watch. In particular, the show will appeal to those with a disposition for puns, and if one is patient, they will leave at least partially entertained.

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Flo Layer

at 09:28 on 19th Aug 2014

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Lizzy Mace played herself, her down-trodden stage manager, and a long list of various characters who have variously been underrated or unnoticed in her one-woman sketch comedy show: Overlooked.

The whole show was very clever, the premise being that a measly audience had collected in one of the smaller and damper venues of the Free Fringe to watch a show about the rewards of revealing the underdog and praising the unnoticed. This sort of self-deprecating irony seems to be making the rounds in a fair few comedy shows at the fringe, yet in Overlooked the theme was admirably developed throughout.

It was clear that Mace was aspiring for a Victoria Wood/Miranda Hart style performance of character throughout the show. While many of the characters that we met along the way were very inventive, from the unacknowledged fourth bear of the bear house visited by Goldilocks to the pathetic cries of a lonely wallflower who even the bees ignore, they frequently just missed the mark of being genuinely funny.

The imitations of acutely observed overlooked social stereotypes were perhaps the most memorable, including the designated coat collector of a party of clubbing women, and the desperate online dater who still lives at home.

A bit of a low point was the dialogue between the kumquat and the physalis, the two most overlooked fruits, as the show descended into Punch-and-Judy-style silliness. Yet Mace’s performance of each character could not be faulted, her accents were spot-on and she transformed from role to role with superb conviction.

The overall idea for the production was certainly original and it definitely showed glimpses of comedy gold potential. But in reality quite a lot of the jokes fell flat, and the transitions between characters were usually a little awkward as empty silences stewed in the room until Mace had suitably dressed herself in props ready for the next character.

On multiple occasions at the end of the show I wasn’t sure when to start applauding. We watched as Michele the stage manager packed up her things and prepared to leave, actually left, and then (in the true spirit of the overlooked and underrated), closed the show with an empty stage and a brilliant recorded voice over, revisiting each character that we had met along the way.

Go and see it this show if you can, Mace is laying some (admittedly the slightly wobbly) foundations for what could one day could belong to a marvellous character-sketch hall of fame.

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