Charlie Russell is already an established performer, being part of the hugely successful Mischief company, the group that brought us The Play That Goes Wrong. But Charlie now appears in her first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Charlie Russell Aims to Please which is playing at the Pleasance Courtyard.
The audience are welcomed warmly, it’s like arriving at a dinner party hosted by an old friend, and while most of the audience are already aware of Charlie Russell, you’d be forgiven for thinking Charlie already knew each of us personally.
The title of the show sums it up perfectly. Charlie’s mission in this show is to please every single one of us in the room. She has devised a rather nifty system which allows the audience to indicate when they have in fact been pleased.
And pleased we were. Interacting throughout with the audience, Charlie asks individuals what it is they like to see, and without missing a beat launches into a performance that matches. We had musical theatre, clowning, ‘proper’ theatre, interpretive dance and mime to name just a few. This show is improv at it’s finest because Charlie Russell Aims to Please is fully tailored to the audience of the day, and it’s done beautifully.
It is of course hilariously funny and the audience are amazed by the various ways that Charlie responds to requests, so that no two skits ever feel the same. It’s a very cleverly thought out show that truly puts the audience at the heart of the action.
Following a stand-up routine, the mood shift and the show becomes more introspective, without giving too much away we learn more about why Charlie is so keen to please. The comedy dissipates for this section and it brings a more heartfelt aspect to the show.
The adage goes that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, yet in Charlie Russell Aims to Please, Charlie succeeds in pleasing all of the room for the full hour. The audience will have come in knowing Charlie Russell, but they will have left loving her and this unique piece of Fringe theatre.