This review first appeared in Exeunt magazine. You can read it here.
There’s a reason the queue to get into Birthday Girls ran halfway down Cowgate: it is, frankly, brilliant: an hour of hilarious, frequently insane, sketches and spoofs punctuated by thumping tunes and crazy dance moves.
The Birthday Girls are Beattie Edmonson, Rose Johnson and Camille Ucan (all formerly of the award-winning sketch comedy group Lady Garden). They bound on-stage to introduce themselves, full of energy, and you immediately want them to be your best friends. The next hour does nothing to change that; you just want them to hang around and provide constant entertainment.
The three women are all talented actresses, able to stay in character for the longer sketches while also moving between different ones quickly and with ease. Particularly good is Camille Ucan’s different iteration of someone with an obsession for smell – the opening wine tasting scene is one of the best of the night. Edmonson does a brilliant impression of Mary Berry (the trio’s spoof of The Great British Bake Off must be one of the highlights of the Fringe that will have you cringeing throughout and never being able to watch the programme in the same way again) and is also very funny as a drunk life coach.
There’s a healthy dose of silliness for a show that plays at ten o’clock at night, but the three performers don’t avoid the more serious issues. There’s a good dig at the representation of women in Game of Thrones and a timely spoof of reality TV shows such as Supersize vs Superskinny.
The trio also clearly know what works, and characters that quickly become favourites regularly reappear throughout the hour, in different guises and in different situations, but still hysterically funny each time. They also know how and when to break character, so that we feel – rightly or wrongly – that we are coming to know them as well, which feeds into the fun and welcoming feel of the show.
The performers’ enthusiasm is immediately infectious. That, combined with the energy of their sketches and dance numbers, means by the end you just want to join in. Luckily, there is the opportunity to do just that, and at the close everyone is up and dancing. It’s the kind of fun, madcap show that you just want to see again and again.