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Rosie's Pop Diary
Published on Thursday, 25 August 2011

4 stars

Just the Tonic at The Tron (venue website)
4-14, 17-28 Aug, 6:20pm-7:20pm
Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

What better guide to navigate a crowd down memory motorway to the Nineties, than a former band member? The decade of Britpop slid past in a Blur, leaving most of us with little more than a ticket stub for Titanic and a mountain of rotting cassettes. It’s a decade any Fringe patron of drinking age will be delighted to fondly reminisce about, and nostalgia is a great way to unite a crowd.

So Rosie’s Pop Diary revisits the not-so-distant past, bringing it into bittersweet focus with her personal story of love, music, and writing a column for the now-extinct Making Music magazine. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a slide show and a miscellany of fan letters and reviews – not to mention the diary itself – she sews her songs and their muses into the snapshot story of how she spent her twenties in Camden, trying to make it with her band Wilby.

Unfairly, Rosie’s Pop Diary had around eight people in attendance when I showed up at The Tron. When she started singing, I developed an urge to grab some strangers from the upstairs bar and pitch them into the empty spaces her voice was lost on. Her warm tones soar into moments of unexpected sweetness, and her songs are the most interesting documents of the show, contextualising everything with heartfelt lyrics and an unmistakeable nineties texture.

Not everyone will appreciate the gentle pace and realism of the story. The act I attended felt carefully organised and, perhaps, leant a little too heavily on readings from the diary and prepared material to feel entirely fresh or spontaneous. The story twists into a well-wrought conclusion which melds past Wilby to present Rosie, but generally, things only shift gear from gentle laughs to accommodate the moments of poignancy which punctuate the show.

As for a performance, it’s staggeringly down-to-earth, and Rosie Wilby is the most genuine comic I’ve seen this year. In a Fringe Festival so often glutted with artifice, it’s refreshing to admit I can’t think of one thing that wasn’t sincere about Rosie. From her discursive delivery down to her ever-twisting guitar strap, Rosie’s Pop Diary is a delicate, endearing delight.

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