Playdough Face

Scheduling is an often overlooked aspect of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, not least by venues attempting to squeeze in as many popular shows as possible. However, unlike terrestrial television channels—where items must be nominally matched against the potential live audience—other factors clearly influence the decisions being made—such as fame, infamy or a promoter at the top of their game. To put it another way, it's how the sequence of delightful, yet occasionally venomous, songs that form the spine of Playdough Face can be savoured at a child-friendly lunchtime.

Healy has a better voice than she sometimes lets on

Australian Claire Healy is a singer-songwriter who is happy to share some of her thoughts and experiences of the world; two a penny, you might say, on the Fringe, and you’d be right. Yet there are probably few who do so with such beguiling charm, or by encouraging audience participation with bribes of chocolate digestives—and we're not talking a supermarket's own brand either!

Healy begins with a tight, sharp song highlighting some of the stranger news stories you might find in an average edition of the Metro newspaper. As the show progresses, though, both the topics and the songs get weirder. There's her fear of her goldfish, Gavin; her frustration with real-life princesses who, unlike the Disney characters of her childhood, “are a bit shit”; the fact that some of her "Facebook friends" have lives which wouldn't even make sense in an unending Charles Dickens novel. Plus, there's the heartfelt realisation that some popular—that is, cheap and gross—Australian alcoholic beverages, and the resulting hangovers, are ideal metaphors for some of her ex-lovers.

Yes, Healy's the kind of woman who believes that, after a messy break-up, the best therapy is to write an angry song about it and then sing it to the ex's friends and immediate family. "Most things in life should be done through song," she says at one point; though you're never entirely sure if the stiletto anger isn't just a humorous touchstone.

Healy has a better voice than she sometimes lets on, keeping the most operatic moments back simply to raise a laugh. Her keyboard accompaniment is suitably restrained, delicate and emotive when required. The result is a sparkling diamond of delicious innuendo, presented with a heart and clarity that's simply enchanting. Whatever the time of day.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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The Blurb

After her Flamboyant jaunt in 2013, Claire is back with fresh songs, fresh biscuits and a fancy new dress. Come on a whimsical romp through the issues facing modern ladies today. How does one deal with problem princesses, sexy crochet and a murderous goldfish named Gavin? Playdough Face may not have the answers, but it will give you giggles, tunes and leave you utterly delighted. 'Effortlessly charming and spectacularly entertaining' (ThreeWeeks). number one tweeted cabaret show 2013.

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