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Anna Nicholson: Woman of The Year – 3 Stars


Anna Nicholson: Woman of The Year

The Space

Reviewed – 3rd October 2018


“it is a compliment to say that this is an uncomplicated hour of comedy”


Fresh, as they say, from the Edinburgh Fringe, Anna Nicholson’s breezy ‘Woman of the Year’ show arrives, touting comparisons to Victoria Wood and Tracey Ullman under the slogan, ‘Character comedy just got competitive’. The format is essentially a showcase for Nicholson’s comedy and vocal talents, pitting four of her comedy creations against each other. To evoke Edinburgh in the austere East End, five round tables are deployed before a shabby proscenium creating a cabaret mood at The Space, and as Kieran Stallard strikes up on an electric keyboard, Anna herself, with help from a prerecorded game show voice, emerges to be Master of Ceremonies.

The first contender is a slightly-too-keen bra saleswoman who, with Joyce Grenfell jolliness, forces her mission of feminine comfort on an audience member with quite the opposite effect. After a quick change of hair and adjustment of skirt length, Geordie glamour vlogger Bianca sashays on to instruct us on the art of the selfie in a breathy dialect all her own. By now the character-creation model is established, with types being familiar enough for audience recognition whilst avoiding over-proximity to existing characters or clichés. The tomboyish female vicar is next. With only a vague Vicar of Dibleyness, she develops a cheerfully vulpine streak as she strives to outdo a local rival. Her competitiveness peaks in a village fete at which she announces a Reverent Baxter piñata in revenge for his success in the bake off. Finally, with an inevitable nod to Catherine Tate, a sex-mad gran totters out to share some affectionate memories of her husband, who died doing what she loved best.

The harder you work at a script the easier it is to watch its performance, so it is a compliment to say that this is an uncomplicated hour of comedy. The characters aren’t overburdened by punchlines or attempts to be clever. The writing support from the show’s Director, Neil Armstrong, and oversight from TV comedy writer James Cary appears to be working well, as does a format which allows performance subtleties to develop, while being robust enough for a beery crowd to follow. Script aside, Nicholson’s portfolio of talents are delivered with slick timing and spirits are kept high by her punchy singing voice and the Variety show vibe of Bobby Goulder‘s near-constant music.

There’s a fine line between fresh and slightly derivative, but Anna Nicholson’s characters are strong enough to suggest she can follow in her heroines’ footsteps, so long as she doesn’t try to do so too closely.


Reviewed by Dominic Gettins


Anna Nicholson: Woman of The Year

The Space until 6th October


Previously reviewed at this venue:
One Festival 2018 – Programme A | ★★★ | January 2018
Citizen | ★★★★ | April 2018
The Sleeper | ★★★ | April 2018
Dare to Do: The Bear Maxim | ★★½ | May 2018
Be Born | | June 2018
Asking For A Raise | ★★ | July 2018
Bluebird | ★★★★ | July 2018
I Occur Here | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Rush | ★★★½ | August 2018
Fleeced | | September 2018


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