Sophie Pelham: Country Files



Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Down the stairs in the cellar of the Pleasance Courtyard, Ms Vanessa Bluwer is waiting to greet you with a glass of cheap sherry and a miniature sausage roll. It’s a wonderfully informal start to this affectionate slice of character comedy. Ms Bluwer is, of course, just one of several people played by Sophie Pelham, all of them from rural Wiltshire and all doubtless based on observation of real people – or at least, so it seems. The characters include retired model-turned-Mum, Sulky Waterboat, the lecherous Lord Ponsonby and a pony-mad eight year old girl addicted to biscuits. There’s even a couple of animal characters thrown in for good measure, a relocated urban fox and a rapping badger (yes, really!)

There’s a meagre crowd for this event, which is a great shame because this charmingly ramshackle show is all based around Pelham’s hilarious exchanges with the audience and in the intimate confines of the cellar, this would have worked a whole lot better if there’d been more people for her to talk to. Her characters are nicely drawn and there are some genuinely funny lines in there, but it’s by no means perfect. She needs to find a way to streamline the proceedings and give us something more to do during her many costume changes, but overall there’s loads of potential here and I rather enjoyed the performance (even the bit where Ms Bluwer chose me as an assistant with whom to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation!)

If you’re looking for something quirky and eccentric, this could be just the thing. And if you’ve a taste for sherry and sausage rolls… this line is made for you!

3.5 stars

Philip Caveney


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