Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Awarded 3 stars
“The problem with birds is, they can fly.” Harriet is a falconer and descends from a long line of falconers, ornithologists, twitchers and pheasant pluckers going back to Henry VIII’s reign. She’s a bit crazy, it has to be said. “I have an avocado on a string.” She swings it round her head as she yips to call back Jester, who simply isn’t returning. Eventually she gets sick of it, tells Jester to fuck off, sheds her country gilet and ups sticks to the big city of London. She’s going to make something of herself.
Lily Bevan is also a bit crazy. As she acts out Harriet’s journey into London she also inhabits the people Harriet has met, all of whom have a few screws loose. The best character is the yoga teacher with her brilliant nonsense sayings. She instructs her class to “raise your hips high, high like Jesus” before moving into “downward dog, just like a cat” and ending on “the plank, a hard plank of wood like metal.” Bevan inhabits the New Age spirit of the instructor perfectly, with just the right amount of peppiness. As this character is performed first, it does feel a little bit downhill from there.
The final scene in Bevan’s spiritual awakening does rekindle some of the humour from the yoga teacher. Harriet goes on a date to “the red café” (Café Rouge to the rest of the population) and ends up drunkenly singing song lyrics with varied success; “rhythm is a dancer, it’s the cause of cancer” isn’t quite right but is definitely the kind of lyric that many of us have sung at a drunken karaoke party.
The other characters that Bevan plays are just not as successful. The mystic interacts a lot with the audience, reading their palms and paying them backhanded compliments. She offers them “fingering tips” and informs them about their future marriage prospects or life expectancy. A mixed bag of jokes here.
The nutritionist is a “veg-anne” that wants everyone to be clean; clean of what is uncertain. Beans and grasses are the food of choice, which she utters one too many times to make it funny. But she has recently written a book titled ‘Are You Fucking Boring? Stop!’ which includes hilarious observations about veganism and the ‘cleanliness’ it brings.
All in all, Bevan has a lot of pluck, which is useful given the name of the show. Regardless of whether the jokes work she ploughs on relentlessly, a brave but necessary tactic for a comedy sketch show. When she gets it right, the characters are hilarious, but this particular performance is a bit hit and miss.
Pheasant Plucker plays at Underbelly Med Quad (venue 302) until August 31 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.