Live Review: Lolly Adefope, Soho Theatre

This review first appeared in the Evening Standard here.

There is always one excellent performer that the Edinburgh Comedy Award judges seem hell bent on overlooking and in 2015 it was Lolly Adefope. The versatile young comedian gathered great reviews and enthusiastic word-of-mouth buzz yet bizarrely the panel dismissed her.

It hardly matters though. Adefope, pictured, is clearly going places with or without prizes. She was approached to play MP Diane Abbott in a musical about Jeremy Corbyn but a hectic schedule suggests that may not now happen. This debut solo set underlines why she is in demand. It is both hugely entertaining and also the perfect showcase for her gift for pin-sharp characterisation.

The framing is a bleak community centre talent contest with the star playing everyone from domineering Midlands compere Wendy and her daughter to wannabe satirists and deluded stand-ups. Best of the bunch are “X”, a “five-time vegan” political act and Gemma, a classic “I’m mad, me” David Brentish clown, who is more tragic than comic.

One of the many strengths here is that as well as humour there is pathos too. Wendy grudgingly lets her daughter — also Adefope — have a go on-stage and she turns out to be the Cinderella of the night, bringing the house down. Which is apt, because Adefope’s rise is a real Cinderella story. The ugly sisters might have grabbed the gongs but I suspect she will have the last laugh.

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