Celia Pacquola In Flying Solos
Irresistibly charming Celica Pacquola is Adam Hills with ovaries, using her magnetic charisma to draw audiences in to an warmly uplifting show that’s as inspiring as it is hilarious. I’d defy anyone not to leave Flying Solos just a little more in love with life – and with her – than before.
The theme is taking risks; those moments when you leave the safety of the pack to go it alone, taking the unshared glory, or abject humiliation, that such a high-stakes move entails.
Stand-up, of course, one of those terribly exposed activities, where you stand or fall alone. But in this case, the odds are stacked very much in the delightful Pacquola’s favour. She boasts an engagingly natural delivery, while being disarmingly open about the embarrassing humiliations of her school years and beyond, all now being reclaimed as comic fodder on her own terms. Owning up to such failings only makes you like her more – whatever popularity she lacked as a teenager is more than compensated for today.
Since this is a motivational show about meeting challenges, Pacquola has set one for herself – to learn the piano solo from the Pointer Sisters’ I’m So Excited, despite having never played a keyboard before. Given that the chorus from the disco classic is probably the one thing that will stick in your mind longer than the show’s joyous ‘go-for-it’ message, the learning process, shown here in all its home video rawness, must have driven her mad.
Though this is only Pacquola’s second solo show, following last year’s rightfully acclaimed break-up show Am I Strange?, the hour is perfectly paced and constructed with a fluency of writing and performance that belies her relative inexperiences. There are plenty of delightful presentational flourishes – her telling of her terrifying flight through a storm a particular favourite – but the real magic is in that ever-present glint in her sometimes mischievous eye.
Seriously, what’s not to like?