Have A Word

Fri 7th – Sun 30th August 2015


Flo Layer

at 15:31 on 17th Aug 2015



I didn’t have much faith that yet another character that draws on the already popular Essex cult of TOWIE and Gavin and Stacey could have brightened the horrendously muggy heat of the attic venue at The Counting House. Yet from the very moment that Stephanie Vange (aka Abbie Murphy) entered with pout and platinum hair extensions, speaking at a hundered miles an hour in her excellent Essex accent it was pretty clear that we were in for a comic treat.

Stephanie Vange is the expertly dressed, fantastic Essex stereotype, floating between jobs from office secretary, paper shredder, aspiring DJ and club dancer. For about an hour we wait with her in a bar as she waits to hear from her ‘friends’ on a hen party and gradually downs a bottle of prosecco only to become increasingly hilarious and brilliant.

During the set, the fabulous Stephanie Vange delivered some absolutely brilliant lines – from a snub at music artists (“Flack off Roberta”) to a list of the top photograph pose tips. At times the whole audience seemed to be scrunched up with laughter, and I certainly left with an aching jaw.

Much of her humour is expertly observational and draws on the absurd comedy to be found in everyday life – from behaviour on social media to the myths about aging.

While I think her character is absolutely fantastic, the set felt a little too long; the intensity of her consistently fast-paced tirade became pretty exhausting to listen to about three-quarters of the way through. Some of the set pieces also lacked the comic ingenuity of others. A section on a children’s nativity play and yet another job as a childminder didn’t seem to receive quite the level of laughter from the audience as the rest of the show.

Despite this, the use of audience interaction was brilliantly balanced and expertly woven into the overarching narrative. Vange’s interaction with Aaron on the front row (or A-dawg as he was affectionately named) was handled superbly and successfully added a fresh and hilarious dimension to the set. This really is a brilliant find at the Free Fringe – you’d be a fool to miss out on the chance to spend an hour with the fabulous Stephanie.


Benjie Beer

at 16:09 on 17th Aug 2015



In only her second show at the fringe, character comedian Abbie Murphy returns as the outrageous, trivial and undeniably hilarious Essex girl Stephanie Vange. In an hour of incessant belly laughs, Murphy welcomes us into the world of Essex, and by the end the audience were sad to leave.

Chattering away on her phone as she enters, Murphy immediately lets us know what we’re on for, telling us how the guy at the bar downstairs said she had a lovely forehead and noting in her perfect Essex twang that ‘That’s nice, isn’t it? Not every day you hear that is it?’ What is amazing throughout is that, although Vange is frivolous, self-conscious and shallow, Murphy’s characterisation is endlessly entertaining, and there is never a dull moment. She jibes and chats to the audience about the comings and goings of her life as if she was at the hairdressers. She will suddenly state that ‘I had the weirdest dream last night – I was talking to a man without a face!’, with remarkable charisma and unstoppable energy that leaves the audience in tears. It says a lot about a comic that the even the smallest movements and most offhand sentences will raise the kind of laugh most comedians would hope for from big punch-lines, and Murphy has the ability to do this every sixty seconds. In fact it is rather difficult to sum up exactly what was so funny about her, because she leaves you with the feeling of being blown away. One audience member at the end turned to his friend in tears of laughter and asked: ‘What on earth just happened!?’

Although the character she is playing is stereotyped, it is evident that there is a deep intelligence in Murphy’s writing. There is an ingenious crossing over the trivial with the intellectual; we hear Murphy holler ‘down with racism’ but up with ‘fash-ism’: don’t let BHS mix with Topshop. Most of the time, however, it is simply an experience listening to her jabber on about how ‘deodorant is responsible for 97% of all divorces’, or how she auditioned to be a nightclub dancer (with a recreation included), or showing audience members how to take the perfect photo on a night out to put on Facebook the next day. Murphy races through topics with such speed and such amazing delivery that it is almost difficult to say exactly what she does cover, but you know that it’s very funny!

This is an hour of non-stop laughter that will leave you with sore cheeks. Murphy is sensational – she will undoubtedly be a star. See this show while you can, because it is simply exceptional.


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