Eleanor Colville: Google Me, VAULT Festival

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by Stephanie Hartland

The Vaults houses some of the most quirky and innovative new work on the fringe scene, making it an ideal host for Eleanor Colville: Google Me, the first comedy show written by an algorithm-generating, quick-witted robot.

As I enter, I’m greeted by Colville herself offering me a cookie and ushering me into a seat. Behind her, a screen shows the words “Accept cookie? Yes/No”, with a definitive arrow pointing to YES – a subtle but clever nod to the concept behind the show we are about to see. It’s quickly established that this screen does not simply represent helpful visual aids, but a meaningful connection in Eleanor’s life – the internet.

In theory, the concept of having a show dictated by an algorithm based on a comedian’s internet history is fun, and sits perfectly in the context of the fast-paced technological developments that we’re surrounded by. A thematic grounding in relevant messages about social media and the internet adds to this, making the idea behind the show highly successful. In practice, Colville maintains the audience’s focus through predominantly well-timed twists, like the injection of character sketches and rewritten (and highly relatable) songs.

It falls short in its slight tendency to veer off into TED Talk territory. While the idea of framing comedy with socially-motivated messages about the internet, depression and the modern crisis of self-confidence is highly effective, on this occasion it did not quite land as successfully as it could have.

Overall, Colville’s talent for comic timing gives her an ability to recognise clear paths to connecting with an audience – nostalgia in this instance – while also making them laugh. This marks her as a comedian to watch.

Eleanor Colville: Google Me runs through 30 January.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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