Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

Louisa Fitzhardinge: Comma Sutra


Gilded Balloon Patter House (Nip), Edinburgh

Louisa Fitzhardinge is an engaging performer, her nerdy enthusiasm both infectious and entertaining. This is a show about language and pedantry, and about learning to embrace who you really are. Fitzhardinge opens with some grammar gripes, then sings us her autobiography, explaining how an early love of reading led to a modern languages degree.

I relate to Comma Sutra well. I too completed a BA in German, and – like Fitzhardinge – went on to study Theatre. I’m a stickler for proper punctuation, and a fan of the Oxford comma. Her subject matter appeals to me.

In places, Comma Sutra is very good; there’s a lot of sprightly wordplay, and the final multi-lingual number is particularly impressive. Fitzhardinge has a lovely voice, and the songs are witty and fun. Sometimes it feels a little superficial though, those gags about apostrophes and misplaced commas perhaps too easy and unchallenging. I don’t mind the dad jokes and the terrible puns – but  they’re not exactly demanding, and I find this section drags somewhat. I think I’d just like her to dig a bit deeper, to explore less charted territory.

Overall, though, I enjoy myself. It’s a pleasure to spend an hour in the company of this charming pedant, and I leave with a smile on my face as I think about ‘oak croissants’.

3 stars

Susan Singfield



From Judy to Bette: The Stars of Old Hollywood


Gilded Balloon Patter House (Doonstairs), Edinburgh

We last encountered Rebecca Perry back in 2015, when we saw her Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl. We enjoyed that show, but this latest offering – a celebration of four Old Hollywood greats – is an altogether grander and more ambitious affair.

The greats in question are Bette Davies, Judy Garland, Betty Hutton and Lucille Ball. Perry clearly idolises her chosen subjects and, through anecdote and song, reminds us why they still matter. It’s a compelling performance: her voice is powerful and her depictions engaging. She doesn’t exactly give us impersonations; instead, we get a flavour of each character, with a dash of old-style glamour thrown in. Perry’s admiration for the women shines through each and every song.

The venue is ideally suited to the piece, the architecture and décor both evoking the feel of an old cinema. The acoustics are good too, which matters a lot in a piece like this, where one showstopper after another is belted out across the auditorium.

If I have a criticism, it’s a very minor one. Because Perry introduces the women chronologically, the climactic emotional moment (her stunning rendition of Over the Rainbow) occurs somewhere around the mid-point of the show. I understand why she’s chosen to present the stories this way, but it does seem a shame not to end on that poignant note.

No matter, From Judy to Bette is a mighty fine show, and well worth going to see.

4.3 stars

Susan Singfield