Jess Robinson does impressions, mainly of women, but not exclusively – she has a man lever to change her voice down an octave. Unravelled opens with Jess literally doing “I’m Every Woman” – Lily Allen, Shakira, Britney Spears and more, all to varying levels of success. The whole show continues in a similar vein, some impressions on the money and others off the mark.
Jess admits she has the flu and her voice suffers for it. That’s not to say she’s not still good – for the most part her tone is on point and she can hit the high notes – but she tires nearer the end of show. Regardless of this however, it’s a tricky ask for someone to mimic the sheer number of voices that she attempts with perfect success. Jess best accomplishes this in quick fire songs, which she turns into games for audience amusement. The Cockney Rhyming Clam is particularly effective, with one or two lines in a variety of different instantly recognisable women. Anne Robinson, Cheryl Cole and Janet Street Porter are big crowd pleasers in this segment.
The problem with Unravelled is in its awkward patter in between songs. Jess is not a stand-up comedian, nor is she an effective compere. It shows. Obvious puns are thrown in between songs, Jess painting herself as the diva that gets everything she wants from her obedient, subservient, all-male band. Thankfully that idea is kicked into touch quite rapidly. But when audience members are brought up on stage and asked to quick-fire gorge on Angel Delight, while Jess belts out a montage of songs about Angels (“Halo”, “Arms of the Angel” and so forth), it gets a bit too candid.
Unravelled is a family-friendly show, very much like the Saturday night gameshows on TV. Except Jess tries to gangsta rap and (shock horror!) can’t find any songs that aren’t riddled with profanity. We end on “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and Jess momentarily loses her audience entirely.
Overall, this is a show that highlights Jess’ vocal acrobatics and ability to do fairly good impressions of a range of celebrities. Lots are imperfect, the structure is predictable, but the vocals are strong and the entertainment value pleasant. It’s expected Edinburgh weekend fodder.
Unravelled plays Underbelly George Square until 27 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.