Review: Clara Saves America

Comic outsider never becomes the bitch she wants to be

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2018
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Clara Saves America

Clara Bijl is French but lives in America, and it is this juxtaposition that informs her comic persona. Forever feeling like the outsider, she's able to pass as American even if there's much about the nation she doesn't like. It's an interesting foundation for comedy, but the ideas and jokes just aren't strong enough for this to be fully exploited.

She clearly wants to critique domestic norms, and she riffs on the horrors of men, marriage, divorce and children. But rather than string all of this together to develop a coherent persona, the set is delivered as short gags that never coalesce into something more. She repeatedly calls herself "bitch", but seems keen for the audience to like and accept her, when a performance of standoffish arrogance would be better suited to the material. And all this takes place in a cavernous space that she never manages to own, when the self-centred character she's aiming for should feel comfortable taking up that much room.

While the majority of the set is grounded in an everyday realism, a later sequence is instead imaginative and dreamlike, and this jars given what's preceded it. To be sure, there's an intriguing premise that underpins what's on offer, constantly hinting at something with vitality just out of reach. Maybe she should embrace the "bitch" persona, and throw her desire to be liked out of the window. The outsider should embrace being an outsider.