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Charlyne Yi - Dances on the Moon
Published on Friday, 27 August 2010

3 stars

Assembly @ George Street (venue website)
Until 30 Aug (not 24), 7:00pm (8:00pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

Charlyne Yi is familiar to many from her appearances in movies such as Knocked Up, by cult comedy director Judd Apatow; and a few festival-goers will be aware of her comic hinterland in the United States.  I don't think the group of drunk, middle-aged men at the showing of Dances on the Moon I took in, who bustled into the back row and shouted abuse at the performer until she was forced from the stage, knew any of this.

I don't know why they were there, and I'm not sure they did either.  After being told in no uncertain terms by venue staff to keep quiet or get out, they shut up, and left soon thereafter.  At that point, the show picked up considerably as the previously timid Yi related a story about her past experience with hecklers, involving one member of the audience chasing her round the stage while the rest of the crowd booed.

Having some idea of what I was getting into, there was not much to surprise from Charlyne Yi.  She is a sweet and awkward performer who sings some funny songs and tells some off-colour jokes.  Her presence on stage was punctuated by video clips filmed in the United States, and these took up more of the time than is usual for pre-recorded material.  Yi seldom engaged with the films, preferring mainly to peek through the curtain from backstage.

A couple of the videos, and one of the few cross-overs between video and live performance, centred on Yi's boyish appearance, and much of the rest of the show is a reflection on life and love from the perspective of a former trailer-park tomboy.  I'm not sure the balance is right between honesty in the storytelling – Yi doesn't think of herself as a stand-up – and the need to establish situations and punchlines for the brief musical interludes.

Nonetheless, and despite the flaws, Charlyne Yi offers an offbeat and pleasantly diverting afternoon show.  She does attempt to draw all the disparate threads of the show together into a meaningful conclusion.  I don't think it's entirely succesful, but like Yi herself, it represents an unusual and characterful way of looking at the world.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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