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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Charlie Russell Aims to Please - Edinburgh Fringe - Pleasance Below

‘You can’t please everyone’

It’s a saying that most people have probably heard before, and many people probably do fall into the idea of being a ‘people pleaser’, but is it actually possible to please everyone? Well, that is exactly what Charlie Russell, well known for being a part of the original Mischief Theatre team, set out to do with her debut solo fringe show ‘Charlie Russell Aims To Please’.

Taking suggestions from the audience gathered in the small but cosy Pleasance Below, Russell aims to find something for everyone to love. From the slapstick and improvisation, she is known for from her performances with Mischief, to period drama, Shakespeare, ballet, tap and even a bit of Britney Spears on the Kazoo, this is a show that really has it all, packed neatly and expertly into an hour.

With audience members armed with stickers and told to wave when Charlie Russell indeed pleases them, this is a highly interactive piece with everyone welcomed into the space happily and treated like friends. Russell showcases herself to be a truly versatile performer, handling whatever suggestion is thrown at her with ease and delighting the audience with her ability to perform whatever pleases them, but there is so much more to this production than simply making people laugh.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is Charlie Russell, Mischief star, famed for her comedic skills and slapstick abilities, and after all, this is being sold as Mischief production, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that laughter is the desired outcome and the show’s sole purpose. But think again. Will this production make you laugh out loud, yes. Will it make you smile and cheer, absolutely. But it will also make you think, make you dig a little deeper into the whole idea of being a ‘people pleaser’.

What Charlie Russel is able to do with this production is nothing short of extraordinary. One minute you are laughing with Russell, but the next you are brought crashing down with a heavy dose of reality when the piece becomes deeply biographical and brutally honest. Russell draws you into her life, talks about her personal struggles in her relationships and family life, asking herself if her desire to perform and make others laugh is making up for her own suffering, becoming a want to please others instead of wanting to do what would make herself happy.

It's a rollercoaster, with certain points making the audience pause and think about themselves as well as Russell’s performance and there is something cathartic about it. From moments of hilarity to moments of heartbreak, this is a production that not only entertains throughout but questions why some have the need to please others, why we can’t say no sometimes, why we feel the need to change ourselves for others when we should just be happy with being ourselves and doing what we love for ourselves, and not for others.

In a smash hit debut run for Russell, it is really no surprise that every performance sold out, including the extra ones, with the show proving an emotional surprise and one that really showcases Russell’s skill as a performer. In a nutshell, one moment you will be giving a standing ovation, the next you will be wanting to give Russell a hug and just say ‘it’s okay, you’re good enough’


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