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Monster of the Deep 3D
Published on Friday, 27 August 2010

4 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
4 - 30 Aug (not 16), 6.30pm (7.30pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

It seems the Gilded Balloon have shipped over a job lot of quirky female Australian comedians – Celia Pacquola, Bec Hill and now Claudia O'Doherty, each kookier than the last.  And without doubt, O'Doherty is the kookiest of the lot, as proved by her irreverent lecture Monster of the Deep 3D.

This show is not your usual hour of standup; it's more of a character piece, a deranged monologue of sorts.  O'Doherty is the last survivor of an undersea research colony called Aquaplex, which recently exploded, killing all but one of its inhabitants.  The show is a reflection on Aquaplex's mission and O'Doherty's life there.  And the title?  Well, that was chosen before the 'incident', but she just stuck with it.

O'Doherty is a confident and winning presence on stage, spouting facts about the salinity of the Pacific Ocean and the comparative size of giant versus colossal squid with exacting precision, all while presenting scale models of the undersea facility.  Geeky science facts mix with absurd invention, in a tightly-honed and remarkably internally-consistent act of world-creation.

I felt that, at times, the story was perhaps a little too out-there, and the audience was occasionally struggling to keep up.  But by the end, with an inspired virtual reality sequence (never mind 3D!) followed by a lunatic dance routine, which will be the envy of David Brent and Napoleon Dynamite, any imperfections were smoothed over and forgotten about.

In 2008, O'Doherty performed at the Fringe (in the same room at Gilded Balloon, in fact) as part of theatrical sketch group Pig Island in Simply Fancy, as 'the girl'.  I said then that “this is a fine example of structured comedic writing, with exuberant and well-timed performances” and, in her debut solo show, O'Doherty builds on that earlier success.  Monster from the Deep 3D is endlessly inventive, full of warmth, and will definitely reel you in.

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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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