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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

Review < Back

Edinburgh 2014 comedy – what you have to do for a laugh these days

Sunday 17th August 2014

The concept of Instrumental, Vikki Stone's new show (Underbelly), seems challenging enough to begin with: Stone, a classically trained musician, attempts to play 20 different instruments as a backing track, often several at once thanks to the magic of looping. The English standup burst on to the fringe in 2011, combining her impressive musicianship and energetic delivery in startlingly explicit comic songs about wanting to do filthy things to Phillip Schofield. There's more of that this year, but it quickly becomes clear that the mad dash around the instruments is a cover for something else. "This is a show about trying and failing," she explains.

It's really a show about her late father's failed attempts to give up the drinking that recently killed him. Stone isn't the first comic in recent years to introduce a bittersweet note by talking about bereavement, but Instrumental is never mawkish, even in the one serious number. It's quite an achievement to bring an audience close to tears then leave them feeling uplifted, but Stone manages it here, proving she's at her best when her songs are linked by a more substantial narrative...

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