Isabelle Farah: Ellipsis
Stand-up comedy has changed a lot over the decades. The most modern form of it often falls into the category of storytelling, with an overarching theme at the heart of it. Ellipsis, while arguably theatre, is still part-stand-up and part-story, as well as partly a technical lecture on how comedy works.
This, thankfully, isn’t some pompous Gadsbean deconstruction of the form, but rather a contrasting of the style with footnotes that build a structure of understanding. It’s a clever idea, and one that adds a lot of weight and emotion to Isabelle Farah’s weaving of the various strands of the performance. It’s both devastatingly funny as well as genuinely insightful, but, at the heart of it, there’s a bitterly sad and honest truth waiting to be told.
Farah manages to touch on a whole host of themes, though while making light of grief, mental illness, herself and the situations, never takes potshots at those suffering, or punches down. It’s at times very raw, and yet universally understandable.
The only detraction from the whole is that it feels untested, there’s a slight stiltedness to Farah’s delivery as if she hasn’t quite relaxed into the performance, making some sections feel very practiced and read, rather than conjuring that magical and elusive sense that the comic is talking to the audience entirely off the cuff. It’s a minor quibble, but in a piece this good, anything that can trip it over the finishing line into first place is worth bringing up.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan