Home » London Theatre Reviews » Suzi Ruffell: Nocturnal at Pleasance Below – Pleasance Courtyard | Review

Suzi Ruffell: Nocturnal at Pleasance Below – Pleasance Courtyard | Review

Suzi Ruffell: Nocturnal
Suzi Ruffell: Nocturnal

There’s a vibe and energy about most stand-up acts, but Suzi Ruffell is in her element in Nocturnal, bouncing around the performance space like a Duracell bunny. It’s a comedy act that deserves a bigger space than the one Ruffell occupies for the Fringe. She has a very likeable kind of boundless energy – never overkill and always refreshing.

This is quite an achievement, given the overarching theme of the show: things that make Ruffell lose sleep – hence the show’s title. There are both macro and micro level reasons why Ruffell struggles to get a good night’s rest. The result is a narrative that is as political as it is personal. There’s a takedown of the Disney Corporation, thanks to the recent controversy in certain quarters because a straight actor has been cast to play a gay character – or, to put it another way, a man has been cast to play a man. Ruffell’s more salient point, and axe to grind, is with the character itself, which, if I’ve understood correctly, is a supporting role whose character name hasn’t even been revealed yet. This leads Ruffell to imagine, through song, what it would be like for a gay character to play the principal role in a Disney movie – it’s a wonderful vision, and one that might as well be realised sooner rather than later.

As someone who doesn’t watch a lot of television (live performing arts, unsurprisingly, is more up my street), I don’t always understand the references to drama, documentary or reality series made in stand-up acts. Here, Ruffell strikes up the usual, ‘Hello, what’s your name?’ conversation with someone in the front row, before establishing that the said audience member hasn’t seen the Channel 4 show ‘Naked Attraction’.

It’s then explained in a hilarious routine (without audience participation involved, I hasten to add). In short, six contestants are in a tube (one tube per contestant), wearing nothing. Only one of them will be selected by a clothed person to go on a date. Their bodies are revealed gradually from the feet up and at each ‘reveal’, the clothed person is asked to eliminate one of the nudes. As I understand it, the show has had same-sex episodes. Ruffell’s biggest gripe was with the chooser who rejected someone who ‘lacked confidence’. “He’s on national television wearing nothing! How confident is he expected to be?”

The other story I very much enjoyed was one involving a tour of Australia, and an encounter with some stingrays, including one called Barbara, that Ruffell would rather forget, if only she could. As she has both the wit to do so effectively, she also enjoys responding to internet trolls, pushing their buttons and enjoying them blast their misplaced fury. A thoroughly engaging and exuberant performance.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

If you don’t have anxiety, I don’t think you’re concentrating! Suzi is worried about everything – from someone breaking into her flat, to human rights across the globe, to her cat’s quality of life – and it’s keeping her awake. Following last year’s critically acclaimed, sell-out run, this show is not to be missed.

Suzi Ruffell: Nocturnal
1st Aug 2018 – 26th Aug 2018
Pleasance Below – Pleasance Courtyard
Restricted to ages 14 and above
https://www.pleasance.co.uk/

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