1/2 Stars

★★ Musical Comedy in a Coffee Shop: More Flat than Flat White

Charlotte Pegram reviews Elsa at Vault Festival

Elsa is a typical London girl; she has dreams but she also has a ‘money job’. Her degree doesn’t seem to get her anywhere so it’s latte art and table service at a rather nice cafe until things pick up. If only she could find a boyfriend, Elsa dreams, then she could half her rent.

A bit like a singer-songwriter in blog form, Isobel Rogers’ one woman musical comedy brings us titbits of conversations overheard in the cafe. We hear yummy mummies discuss school choices, heartbroken little rich girls bemoan their insensitive fiancés and powerhouse female execs bubbling under the pressure of it all. The London rat race isn’t portrayed particularly favourably here, but the performance is hardly a cutting indictment either. Elsa’s character is lost amongst the busyness of it all; she’s not sure what she should want or how she should get it, which means the structure of the piece is a little meandering at times. Elsa’s ear bends from one self-involved conversation to another,  but doesn’t seem self aware enough to realise that she is a fairly solipsistic character herself.

Some audience members will love this understated performance, identifying with the deadpan reality of life as a young twenty-something in the capital. But there are times when Elsa’s character is so unsure of herself that she becomes a little limp; her stab at a coffee shop rap is distinctly lacklustre. I so wanted Rogers to take us along with her, but she seems quite detached from the audience- perhaps a little more eye contact and a few more knowing smiles would give the audience licence to laugh. Billed as containing “off-the-cuff stand-up” there wasn’t any audience interaction to speak of, which was a little disappointing.

Whilst the lyrics are amusing and Rogers’ voice is soothing, the presentation of stock female types doesn’t bring anything new to the conversation about pressures on women. At 5o minutes, this is a bite-size piece of light comedy, but it doesn’t fully satisfy the audience’s appetite.

Charlotte Pegram

Elsa plays at Vault Festival until February 18th 

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