Soho Theatre

As spring ripens into summer fringe theatre becomes a dangerous activity, temperature-wise. Either the fiery gates of hell or over Aircon ’ed frozen tundra. Emily Woof’s show Blizzard should be the cool blast of air needed in this concrete microwave we call London.

Accomplished theatre marker and actor, this show is Woof’s return to the lonely-play-genre. We meet Dotty, the quintessential countryside kooky female: think Sally Hawkins, or a British Zooey Deschanel, or any female art teacher up and down the country. Endearing yes, but with all the grating inherent in manic-pixie-dream-people. Dotty’s neuroscientist husband (also nicknamed Dotty) feels unable to deliver his life’s work at a Swiss symposium so Dotty (wife) steps up, with predictably zany consequences.

Woof’s writing when being comedic has sparks of greatness. A little like character stand-up, Dotty’s revelations are simplistic, childlike, and also deeply penetrating. Woof also understands comic timing, and (for the beginning at least) the whole thing is enough of a parody of ponderous solo shows to be genuinely amusing.

But like with much theatre, the bring-it-home section, trying to wring emotional clout from the crescendo tramples the delicate alpine flowers of irony under heavy feet. Dotty is stranded in Switzerland, meeting gregarious artistic types, fighting with her own clothes, and generally being a kook. The emotional breakdown and subsequent self-discovery is a stumbling affair. Not helped by Ellie Wintor’s rather cheap-looking folded paper set, and the use of an iPhone for a bus. Hamish McColl’s directing can’t seem to make up it’s mind if this is all a big joke, or if its meta, low budget effects are serious.

Satre is a sticky line to tread. What starts as an off-beat comedy, a loose cannon character quickly becomes a dive into a snowbank exploring the soul, neurological phenomenon and philosophical thought. Odd movement sections pierce the story, and the last scenes blur to together with very little ability to transport us to the needed museum, mountainside, or Dotty’s home back in the UK. The gear switch from comedy to committed is on a steep incline and results in a stalled piece, all while the blizzard of the Soho Theatre’s AC billows around us.

Keep up to date with what’s kicking at the Soho Theatre, click here!