Talking to Jan Ravens on the phone seems like it would be a risky business. The impressionist is so adept at what she does that, were you unable see her face, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were having a chat with the Queen, or a BBC personality, along with many others.
Fodder for Ravens’ stellar Fringe show comes primarily in the form of politicians. Over the hour, she takes on the body language and the voice quality of Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon, Hillary Clinton and more – and she does so with a jaw-dropping accuracy. Through mannerism and speech alone, Ravens transforms herself before our very eyes into highly recognisable public figures. She weaves observant humour into each of her impersonations, inviting peals of laughter from the crowd.
Ravens is not just well-versed in political mimicry; her rich-voiced Joanna Lumley and her cooing Carol Kirkwood will make you want to yell “UNCANNY” from your seat. Among the show’s highlights is Ravens’ rework of a Victoria Wood song, which serves as a sort of love letter to the late comedian. If Ravens’ spot-on impression isn’t enough, the lyrics in the musical parody are also knee-slappingly witty.
When it comes to celebrity impersonations, Ravens possesses an astounding aptitude. She’s not making any particularly big, bold statements here – she’s just demonstrating that she can be whoever she wants to be, with absolutely no props or costume necessary.
Words: Morgan Laing
Jan Ravens: Difficult Woman, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Aug 12-27 (not 16), times vary