Isabelle Farah: Ellipsis, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Assembly Roxy

Reviewer: Tom Ralphs

Writer: Isabelle Farah

Director: Eleanor Rushton

Billed as a show that follows a young woman through her grief journey as she tries to hold two careers, friendships and her mind together, Ellipsis does not immediately suggest itself as the subject of stand-up comedy, except for the fact that one of the two jobs Isabelle Farah has is stand-up comedian. Alongside that, she is a writer and actor, which explains why the official second job is a 9 to 5 office one that fills her with dread every day.

This could probably make for a good hour of what Farrah refers to as level one comedy – the entry level stand-up for comedians without the confidence or reputation to do darker material. However, after musing on the art of stand up, the show takes a darker turn as she talks about the death of a friend and the way that the British ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality meant that the stand-up career at least continued through her grief.

There’s a slight feeling that Farrah is either unsure of where she wants to take this show or is holding back from taking it there. At one level, the lighter material about the different faces of the comedian and how stand-up works, is interesting and well delivered with the switch between performing into a microphone and direct address to the audience showing how the two personas overlap. On an entirely different level, the exploration of grief, feelings about whether we could have done anything different that may have kept someone alive, and the absurdity of how we deal with death, demonstrates how stand-up can be a form of therapy for performers while also acting as camouflage preventing emotions bursting out into the open.

It is at this level where the show is at its most effective, but it feels as if this central theme is getting slightly lost in the set up at present.

Reviewed on 14 August, running from 4 to 14 August, additional shows 26, 28 August |Image: Contributed

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A darker side of stand up

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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