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Comedy Fringe Theatre

Fringe 2022: Hannah Pilkes: A Woman on the Verge Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hannah Pilkes’ debut show is jam-packed and fun-filled, all based around the premise that Hannah is running late for her show. With the show veering wildly in different directions and pulling us into comedic realms that are fantastic, it is very impressive that Pilkes manages to keep this theme woven into the show.

In fact, the show never actually gets started because of Pilkes’ many commitments, although the situations themselves are largely unrelatable, the theme of being unable to say ‘no’ and “hanging by a thread” is one which most of the audience could certainly relate to.

We watch Pilkes attend an upbeat dance class that ends in disaster, watch a sexy horror film and go to a microbrewery beer tasting hosted by a sad, booze-loving man. Mixing pathos with sheer hilarity, she manages to hit on many of the audience’s emotions and truly bring the crowd to life.

Although the show is generally very chaotic and full of hilarious and well-done audience interaction, there are some moments which show Pilkes’ ability to write more precise elements of comedy, such as a ‘monologue-esque’ scene where she recounts her plans for her wedding. Adding in elements of the mystical, the magical and the downright theatrical, she does well to keep this scene at just the right level of ridiculous.

Unfortunately, some scenes do not go down as well as others. Whilst the audience participation including Hannah having a participator draw a tattoo on her keeps the crowd engaged and involved, there are some moments where Pilkes falls off the mark with these interactions.

One character introduced is clairvoyant Chancy Bricabrac and her puppet assistant, a scene which is overexaggerated, and despite being well-meaning, is quite awkward for the viewers.

In general, there are a few moments of awkwardness in this show, and many times where the audience isn’t quite able to give the reaction the comedian is hoping for. Unfortunately, some of the humour is too niche for an audience that isn’t looking for TikTok comedy, and therefore some moments of the show are very strong while others are mediocre.

She ends the show by breaking out of character and slowing the show down, discussing what it means to be ‘on the verge’, and sharing what the audience has to say about that. Whilst this is touching, Pilkes has difficulties bringing down the energy she has created throughout the show from that of comedy and that of the serious nature of burnout, loneliness and breakdowns. Nevertheless, relating the wild scene she has just acted out to a more real and relatable issue is thought-provoking and unique.

Pilkes’ show is extremely ridiculous and fun-filled and guaranteed to make you laugh, and with some tweaks to allay a few moments of awkwardness, it is certain she could be on the verge of something amazing.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Mein Mein Lin, provided to The Student as press material.