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Charlie Vero-Martin: Pic at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023

Charlie Vero-Martin is a relative rarity – a Scottish performer at the Edinburgh Fringe. This is one of those shows that starts off so genially and in such a welcoming and relaxed environment that there’s a knowing feeling in the back of one’s mind that things just might turn sour and sinister at some point. The key in a comedy sketch show is to keep the audience chortling away even after the switch from light to dark, and Vero-Martin manages to do just that, at least partly because her ‘wrath’ and ‘vengeance’ (inverted commas very much mine) are taken out on her trusty assistant Danielle rather than the hardy souls in the front row, let alone those of us sat further back.

Charlie Vero-Martin. Credit Rebecca Need-Menear.
Charlie Vero-Martin. Credit Rebecca Need-Menear.

I wonder whether this show might have been better off with a start time closer to 10:00pm rather than 7:00pm – not because of any post-watershed content, but rather some of the sketches are so quirky and absurd – sorry, absurdist – that I can’t help feeling they would have been better enjoyed by an audience that has had, on average, a tad more alcohol. The show starts off with a conversation around the topic of picnics – how Vero-Martin remembered them growing up, and what role picnics (well, outdoor eating) has had in world history. Even Jesus, she beams, in reference to the feeding of the five thousand, loved a picnic.

But it’s a while before the audience is even reminded about picnics, in a series of quick-fire scenes involving a considerable amount of puppetry, diverse accents – which sounded spot-on to me – and commentary as the show progressed as to how her puppets were put together at low cost. And why not? There’s still a cost of living crisis ongoing at the time of writing, and any money-saving tips are therefore more than welcome.

The observational comedy is easy to follow. I’m loath to give too much away, but suffice it to say I’ve never laughed so hard at a sketch on – wait for it – the importance of pine cones in the world today. I suppose that’s where the show’s greatest strength lies: finding humour in everyday things. The material on marine biology doesn’t manifest (or, as one of Vero-Martin’s characters would have it, ‘womanifest’) into seafood picnic offerings – vegetarians and vegans, rejoice! A very random show, even by Fringe standards, but one that demonstrates Vero-Martin’s versatility as a puppeteer, character actor, and storyteller.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

The planet is melting and life’s spinning out of control. Can Charlie Vero-Martin save it with a nice Picnic? Jam-packed with endearingly skittish stand-up, surreal characters and puppets, this is an indoor alfresco party like no other. Sneaky salamanders, crabs in teeny tiny hats and passive-aggressive pinecones try to distract her attempts to put the world right. But beware, this summer ritual might just turn into a one-woman Wicker Man…

VENUE: Delhi Belly, Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61), 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX
DATES: Thursday 3rd – Sunday 27th August 2023 (no show Monday 14th August)
TIME: 6:55pm (60mins)
AGE GUIDANCE: 16+ recommended

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