The best thing about the Free Fringe may also the worst thing. You are able to see all kinds of comedy in places you’d never imagine seeing comedy, like in dusty caves under the old town that only seem to exist during the festival, stationary buses in awful pub courtyards, and, this year, mobile phone shops. While it’s fun to see new corners of Edinburgh, these places are often plainly bad venues for comedy, and some of the humour can taper off and die in poorly-ventilated rooms with terrible acoustics. Ellie White’s show takes place underneath a Mexican resteraunt. It is full of distracting paintings, ornaments, and piñatas. That Ellie White can use the space well and entertain a packed audience is pretty impressive.
For White’s debut solo show we are introduced to several characters, including motivational speaker Aileen Glass, shy Miss Haringey 2014 contestant Rebecca, a beleaguered mother trying to do a speech at her child’s 18th birthday, and a hip but terrible poet who seems to have returned to her old school to give a talk to a sixth form class. Thinking back, it’s hard to decide who my favourite character was. It may be the hapless Rebecca; with her ‘foreign’ accent and whispering cadence, she tends to get the best jokes. White’s performances are superb; for her motivational coach, she can be seen warming up beside the stage, waiting to go on, psyching herself up and punching the air. That hardly anyone in the room can see her doing this is testament to her commitment to the part.
There’s a lot of character comedy at the Fringe this year, but White acquits herself nicely in the throng. Each character has great gags, and all are well-formed with care and attention. Don’t be put off by the odd venue; go see her while you can.