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Laura Solon: The Owl of Steven
Published on Monday, 23 August 2010

3.5 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
Until 29 Aug, 5:00pm (6:00pm)
Reviewed by Trystan Davies

You’re here in Edinburgh, which has everything!  But what if you were in the middle of nowhere with (almost) nothing?  The Owl of Steven is Perrier Award winner Laura Solon's story of a documentary team, searching the isolated Island of Steven for its fabled Owl.

Laura Solon won the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2005, back when they were still the Perriers, and has been heard since on her Radio 4 show Talking not TalkingThe Owl of Steven is her latest creation and is energetic and full of witty jokes.  Solon’s ability to form a memorable character through an excellent script has no doubt enhanced the popularity of her radio show, and seems essential for a such a challenging theatrical solo act.

The Owl of Steven is full of quality one-liners, delivered with perfect timing, which never fail to get a big laugh.  Solon loves eccentric characters who are entertaining in their own right, and she hits the nail on the head with the middle-class and angry couple who own the Island’s bed & breakfast.  

She is a master of lampooning idiosyncrasies through just her voice, and that skill is well-showcased throughout this solo prop-free performance.  She lets loose on rural life and isolated communities who take extreme measures to attract tourists.  But having grown up in just such rural isolation, I was not convinced that Solon had a real grasp of what a cartooned Steven Island could be like.  

A number of individual strong characters, including the documentary team, are done confidently from a solid script during the first half of the show.  The second half lost the thread a little, with too many characters and frantic shifting from one to the next disturbing the rhythm of an otherwise fine performance. 

This was a difficult and challenging solo act drawing big laughs, which on the whole, Laura Solon does well with.  But the Owl, rather than being wise, unfortunately ends up too clever for itself. 

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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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