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Review: Laura Solon – Rabbit Faced Story Soup @ Lichfield Garrick

Laura Solon & Ian the Rabbit.

A night of narrative comedy might sound like a pretty sedate, Tuesday lunchtime Radio 4 affair. A story about an aspiring literary publisher should be right at home in cosy, suburban Lichfield, surely? Laura Solon’s effervecent yet self-depricating manner was reassuring to those in the audience more wary of modern ascerbic stand-up comedians. But her own character wasn’t all they were subject to this Saturday.

For characterisations, Solon is hard to beat, and her “pottery teacher” clad personalities were certainly all very much individuals. The only part she didn’t have to play was Ian; a white rabbit with remarkable stage presence despite the limitations of his stuffing. Diana Lewis, the largely befuddled main character, receives him from the domineering matriarch, Marcie Blitzer (who pragmatically refers to her assistant as “Shut Up” or more rudely depending on the required function), as a non-too subtle hint at Diana’s fate should she slip up. Marcie’s many incentives are designed to make sure that Diana will trace the final missing chapter of the publishing houses’ star author’s latest novel, who, much like that last jigsaw piece, has considerately vanished off the face of the planet.

Largely a cypher, we share Diana’s experiences and encounters through Solon’s expertly low-key narration as she introduces the unhinged Russian Oligarch owner of the Black’s Publishing House who has a thing for crocodiles, a lady sci-fi novelist divorcee and a distinguished French author whose creativity goes beyond (and indeed without) words and punctuation.

Solon revels in her portrayals, bursting with a confidence only hinted at in her more traditionally jokey intro. Yes, this is a recital, but one crafted brilliantly to pull out the rug and leave the audience rolling when they least expect it. If anything, I find that a lot more honest than shoddily cobbled stand-up routines that fell off the back of the celeb quiz show lorry. An award winner she may well be, but she certainly deserves the the reward of our following: I’m only worried by news of her next act, “The Owl of Steven,” how many creatures may have to go via creepy taxidermists in order for her career to continue to blossom?

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