Lucie Pohl’s solo show Apohlcalyse Now! begins with a minute or two of Pohl prancing around making faces at the audience, accompanied by loud music and vibrant lighting. This opening routine is a bit strange, very high-energy, and not at all funny. It is, in fact, exactly like the rest of her show.
As Pohl takes the stage, it becomes clear that this will be a storytelling-style stand-up routine, with Pohl making a classic bid to derive humour out of the misfortune encountered in her real (or imagined) life. In the right hands, this format can work brilliantly. However, in Pohl’s case, the set just wasn’t funny enough for a show advertised as comedy. I noticed my lips twitching into a smile a few times, but I didn’t laugh once during the hour-long show.
On the night I attended, several punchlines were fluffed, while a tendency to exaggerate childishly – and to talk in a quick, higher-pitched voice while complaining – left me with a sense that I was listening to a friend rant about a bad day. Comic timing and engagement with the audience were lacking, leaving the show suffering from the joint afflictions of dull material and poor delivery.
There was no sense of being drawn into the performance; we simply sat there in vague tedium. The rest of the audience remained subdued throughout the show, and I, sadly and very unusually, at one point checked my watch willing the show to be over.
The irony is that Pohl, who is an actress by trade, is clearly a very good one. She has a particular talent for impersonations, which were many, varied, and extremely convincing; so it was a desperate shame that they weren’t also funny. She must also be applauded for maintaining a high level of energy throughout the show. With a different vehicle and a different focus, her boundless energy and knack for impersonation could be put to outstanding use.
At one point in the show Pohl complains that “no one will ever know my full potential”, and I think that if she retains this set she may well be right. Her talent as an actress shines through, but comedy, it seems, is not her forte.