Rosie Holt at Edinburgh Fringe review | A strong and stable political show

★★★☆☆
Rosie Holt offers an hour’s entertainment for the political junkies – but like many a politician’s pledge, it doesn’t quite deliver.  

Rosie Holt

Amid the many heroes who helped us get through the pandemic – the NHS, delivery drivers, that bloke who did a virtual quiz every Thursday – there was a select few who really got it right: satirical comedians.

With the government’s usual shenanigans, it felt like The Thick of It had been turned inside-out, as we observed ministers making memes of themselves each and every day, flanked by the honourable Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.

Rosie Holt is one such act who’s capitalised on this cacophony of governmental cock-ups and is ever-willing to play the hapless, try-hard minister who will say anything and mean nothing.

Rosie Holt

(Michael Spicer, of course, is another comic success story of this ilk, usually playing the role of flabbergasted spin doctor. And, though obviously best-known for other acts, Matt Lucas’ drivelling impression of Boris Johnson giving lockdown rules remains some of the highest-quality content from the days of lockdown).

The next inevitable question for such stars, whose comic prowess has been best appreciated on Twitter, was how their show would translate into the physical world once more. Rosie Holt’s The Woman’s Hour tries its best, and is certainly brimming with witticism, but its leap off our tiny screens just misses the mark.

There’s some clever self-referential treatment at play, certainly; the joke being that we’re never quite sure who “the real Rosie Holt” is, as she adorns different garish costumes for her different characters.

There’s also a mocking jibe at all the leftie loonies, Tory tossers and umming-and-ahing centrists in the room – a much-needed refreshment in these divided times, where we can all for a moment laugh collectively. Yet, just like a Liz Truss speech, nothing is really said that hasn’t been said before.

Without giving away spoilers, the show’s main arc centres around so-called “cancel culture” and could give grounds for a powerful conclusion. At its best, comedy can be a great tool (and tonic) for political maelstroms. But this show becomes more about its protagonist than anything else.

If you’re a political junkie, however, it’s definitely worth a watch. If only to take you away, briefly, from the real-world political mess we face.


Rosie Holt’s ‘The Woman’s Hour’ is on at Pleasance Courtyard (The Attic) at 18:00 everyday at The Fringe aside from Tuesday 16 August.


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