3 ½ stars
In her debut clowning performance, Marina Margarita breathes life into the heavily pregnant form of Odette - the cleaning lady that everybody loves to love. Well, maybe not everybody. Everybody who isn’t a bastard, certainly.
Odette! is a show that makes the most of Margarita’s ability to work an audience. The nigh-constant audience participation is handled with a grace and playfulness that many performers benefit from emulating.
Despite regular and at-times intensive interaction, the audience is never belittled or made to feel that they are the butt of the joke. That honour rests firmly with the titular character who possesses a rictus grin of excitement and fervour as she shuffles hesitantly onto the stage.
In this meta-show, we are fans of The Bold & The Beautiful. The performance is presented as a competition, with the audience as experts on the topic, but it doesn't rely on any specific knowledge of the television show to work. As long as you are loosely familiar with the tropes of daytime soaps you’ll get the few jokes that make reference to it.
Our host is a delight. She’s able to project the emotions that run hot (and cold) through some marvellous physical comedy, as well as dialogue that prevents the relatively simple narrative from feeling belaboured. When Odette locks eyes with an audience member, they can feel the intensity of her passion, hopefulness or heartbreak.
The run time on opening night was a full ten minutes short, but such was the nature of the performance that it didn’t feel overly rushed.
Any performance that relies so heavily on interactions with the audience is at risk of disruption, but Margarita’s dextrous approach mitigates that risk to a large degree. She cannot be derailed, since she isn't on rails so much as she is darting around her material like a hungry dragonfly above the surface of a pond teeming with delicious comedy-larvae.
Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.