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Life – Lass O’Gowrie, Manchester

Writer and Performer: Carly Tarett

Reviewer: Jo Beggs

[Rating:4.0]

Carly TarrettCarly Tarett is a Lass O’Gowrie regular. Recent appearances in V for Vendetta and Bladerunner must make her one of Manchester’s busiest jobbing actors, but in her new production for the Greater Manchester Fringe – Life – she’s back with her own material in what can only be described as a one woman sketch show. Tarett has previously wowed Lass O’Gowrie and Fringe audiences with her self-penned productions. In 2011 she brought Princess Dee: the story of Princess Diana to the stage, a comic take on a parallel universe Diana story. Last year’s Sinful, though, introduced the successful format that Tarett demonstrates here – a sketch format with an overriding theme – first she tackled the deadly sins, now she’s asking ‘is there life on other planets?’.

It’s a format that really works. Tarett’s skilful comedy writing and accomplished performance comes together brilliantly as she portrays a parade of aliens, abductees, and pseudo-scientists. Sketches are clever and complex, she delivers perfect comedy arcs with sharp punch lines, rich description and quick wit. As a performer she displays a competent range of dialects, jumping seamlessly from character to character.

What’s not seamless about the show is the technical side of things. Awkward gaps between sketches, late sound cues and clunky projection of a short filmed segment slow things down and undermine Tarett’s slick delivery. The film is, in any case, probably the least successful part of the show, both in content and execution, which underlines the fact that it’s the coming together Tarett’s writing and performance that makes this production so successful.

It seems Tarett isn’t taking this show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe but it would sit well in the programme, providing something a bit different, fifty minutes of quality, well written comedy that’s not quite sketch show, not quite stand up. She’s previously taken shows out on the fringe circuit though, and Life – on any planet – is worth looking out for!

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