Judged by comedy reviewers for not making more of her skin colour in her debut last year, Lolly Adefope has taken her damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn’t dilemma and contrived a riposte of artfulness, wit and feeling.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
A versatile and gifted character comic, whose recurring call centre skit showcases both her capacity for silly voices and a fine set of singing pipes, she usually fully inhabits her creations, hiding behind them.
But there’s a sliver of autobiography in her performance as Stephanie McDougall, fresher’s week student representative at Loughborough University, cheerfully extolling the virtues of the second-rate institution and responding to newcomers like the unseen Adefope with breezy insensitivity to their more pressing inquiries. More strikingly though, Adefope foregrounds her blackness and disquiet about racial discourse from the start.
She makes the “race card” a literal phenomenon in a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?-style gameshow, linking it to the controversy surrounding the Oscars’ lack of diversity and the casting of a black actress as an adult Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, envisioning herself auditioning for the role.
Woven between these sketches she introduces Damian Speck, a politically incorrect cultural awareness co-ordinator and recreates dates she’s been on, veering between subtlety and palpable anger, neatly distilling aspects of her own experience into broader satire on the representations of black people.
Not everything works as effectively as this central thrust. Unless a basketball star addicted to sport and what I took to be an Oprah Winfrey pastiche were a comment on the way society prefers successful black people to be athletes and entertainers, then I’m guilty of reading too much into their ethnicity too, because they’re never as amusing or vital as the material surrounding them. Regardless, that’s a quibble when set against an entirety that’s consistently funny and awkwardly zeitgeisty.
Until 28 August. Today 6pm.