If Adrian Mole had been born in the late 90s he may well have developed into Susan Harrison’s unique character Jennie Benton Wordsmith.
The character is brilliant and believable, with just the right balance of immature acting and clever social commentary. Benton is a teenage tomboy with a healthy penchant for rapping. She does it very successfully. Her raps are all well-worded and incredibly performed with some fantastic hip hop references scattered throughout. Harrison really has a voice for it, she rhymes fast and complex sentences with a well-rehearsed ease.
She employs the audience a lot, but in a very friendly and unforced way, even rewarding anyone who helps with a packet of crisps. With such an amenable and almost vulnerable style it would impossible for any crowd not to warm to her and join in the fun. There are a couple of sing-alongs (rap-alongs?) and even a dictionary corner a la Countdown which she uses to great effect. Benton is very particular about using the right word in the right place. She is a wordsmith after all.
This is an original and clever performance piece with some funny lines and excellent wordplay and it’s this wordplay that gets the laughs. Not many actual jokes and the few there are receive punctuation by a jolly little spin, but this just further enforces the make believe. You don’t need jokes when you are naturally funny.