Be Careful What You Wish For with Alice Lashman

Mon 5th – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Ben Williams

at 02:33 on 17th Aug 2013

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Linsay Bonnell’s ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ was essentially a one-woman comedy show in the form of a seminar about how to wish properly. As far as comedy show concepts go, this has to be one of the most original, however, although Bonnell herself showed some promise, it was in fact this very concept which proved to be the show’s downfall.

As we took our seats, the audience was presented with a workbook (complete with motivational quotes and a space to write our own wish) and a name tag (with a name devised by Bonnell herself), and whilst these were a useful introductory tool, the overall effect was underwhelming and somewhat patronising. To be frank, this set the tone for the majority of the performance which followed, as the audience continued to be belittled by a continuous stream of explanations and diagrams, most of which were unnecessary.

The comic content of the script was weaker still, with many lines leaving the audience cringing. Perhaps the low point of the entire show was Bonnell’s explanation of her term ‘thirnally’, a term for when the point you are making comes both ‘third’ and ‘finally’. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t raise a laugh.

Yet, the script was not without some redeeming features. Behind the sparkly wands and eye-patches there lay a message about the importance of thinking for yourself about what you really want, regardless of media or social influence. However, this was only if you managed to get your head around the fact that we were essentially being told how to wish more effectively for things beyond our control.

Despite this, it must be said that Bonnell herself as the host, Alice Lashman, had a commanding stage presence and managed to move effectively between the other subsequent characters well, particularly due to her use of accents. Similarly, it was Bonnell who managed to turn some of script into relatively pleasant comic moments, although these were moments which made the audience smile rather than laugh out loud.

Other features, such as the use of popular music to illustrate her points, simple but effective costume changes, and the occasional witty metaphor are all to be commended, even if they ultimately did little to redeem the quality of the script. On the whole, the piece was pleasant enough, and would probably go down well with smaller children, but as a comedy show at the Fringe, it was significantly off the mark.

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Frank Lawton

at 05:05 on 17th Aug 2013

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If I was high, or a child, or both, I might have found this funnier. Sadly, on this occasion I wasn’t. Perhaps that was the problem. As it was, this comedy seminar on ‘wishing’ fell flat far more often than it managed to reach the stars, despite them being a key component of wish mechanics.

The space Linsay Bonnell had to work with was challengingly small, so small, in fact, that the front row had to make a concerted effort not to trip her up by mistake. This was compounded by the energy in Bonnell’s performance, which managed to pull off awkward, delusional and inanely happy with equal success.

The form of the performance took what could be seen as a parody of the faux-science of the self-help seminar, with case studies, homework books, class stickers and notes on the dangers of ‘forgotten/dead/white lie’ wishes (they clog up the air, making it difficult for wishes to reach the stars, in case you were wondering, an idea not without a certain charm). Then again it could have been seen as slightly extenuated comedy character sketch for children, with the aim of making them giggle and to take away the message to follow their dreams.

There was a childrens' entertainer feel to the whole thing, with hand-drawn slides and puppets illustrating the case studies. This is a show unsure of its audience, and I say this because I can’t really believe the level and style of comedy presented was meant for an adult audience alone. Then again, even if this was a parody mocking the seminar/improvement-course industry, it just wasn’t that smart in doing it, let alone that funny.

There were the odd moments that coaxed a chuckle, such as the “right eye model” skit or the occasional skewed pneumonic (remember that ‘HOPE’ stands for ‘having optimistic ponderings equals success’, it’ll help your wishes come true). These moments, though, weren’t frequent enough, with a much higher hit-rate of poor jokes and easy puns. We were jokingly told that this was a taster session of a nine and a half week course. I wouldn’t wish to see this again, let alone repeat it over a period of weeks.

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