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saints and sinners of the stage and screen

It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl
The CentrE17
20th July 2017


Rachel Creeger

Photography © Ruth Bloch

Every August, you can usually spot theatre maker Rachel Creeger doing last minute checks before one of her shows starts - a flash of black and a brightly-coloured hair covering of some sort always gives it away. This summer though, she's not hiding in the wings and she's certainly not hiding her Jewishness either. It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl marks fringe veteran Creeger's first solo foray into comedy and she's taking her new one-woman show up to Edinburgh in a move that screams "go big or go home." This nice Jewish girl clearly has no fear.

Creeger's show tackles her own experiences growing up as - well, not the only Jew in the village, but certainly the only non-Jewish looking Jew on an Essex estate with BNP neighbours. As you would imagine, that lends itself to some interesting stories. She talks about her family, including her grandparents and - spoiler alert - her paediatric cardiologist brother. Despite being a preview, the personal nature of the show contributes to Creeger never once losing her place or needing to refer to notes: she knows her stuff. The flipside is that the delivery can almost feel a bit too polished at times, with some of the pauses slightly awkward. Creeger does react very quickly to any in-show mishaps, proving she isn't just reading out loud from a mental crib sheet, but in this preview, she holds back some of her natural effervescence, perhaps saving it for Scotland.

Although there are no wild roars of laughter, Creeger is never anything less than truly fascinating, spinning story after story that piques our interest. With the exception of few passing digs at politicians that have perhaps lost their edge in this post-Election world, none of what she says is in the least bit predictable. Rather than relying on a few safe tropes to ease herself into her set, Creeger instead immediately draws from her own family history to unearth curious stories involving Terry's Chocolate Oranges, horse saddles, obsessive lamination and post-apocalyptic survival plans. Her originality is refreshing and what makes her worth that precious hour of festival time.

With this her first solo stand up show, Creeger still has work to do in making the delivery land perfectly when she's the one on stage rather than directing the performance. However that will come with practice and with a run that bravely spans most of EdFringe, it wouldn't surprise me if the laughs come faster and harder each time. Despite opening to a slightly stunned group of punters in London who didn't all quite seem to appreciate they had signed up for an hour of live comedy, Creeger finishes with her own well-trained vocal harmony group, having gently charmed everyone into obeying her. She chips away at their British reluctance with disarming enthusiasm, insidiously coaxing the audience into obeying her whim. There's a definite skill there and one which suggests the niggles with this set will be smoothed out in due course.

Not a doctor. Not a dentist. But equally, not half bad. A solid debut show from Creeger who as well as being funny, is really rather nice (the clue is in the title). It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl is definitely worth taking a punt on at PBH's Free Fringe.

It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl ran on Thursday 20th July at The CentreE17. It runs from 6th to 25th August (not Saturdays) at Black Market Venue 399, as part of EdFringe.

Nearest tube station: Walthamstow Central (Victoria)

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