Sandi Toksvig is an incredibly likeable woman. She bounces around the stage, telling a variety of witty and interesting stories, and the hour whizzes by.
What sets her apart from other comediennes and storytellers is her passion. Whether she's talking about her life, her work, or her love of the English language (which is a central theme in the show), she does it with absolute passion and conviction. It's this truthfulness and openness which makes the show so remarkably infectious.
Making a show in the huge Pleasance Grand feel intimate and personal demands incredible skill as a performer, and Toksvig does it effortlessly. The charming presentation is backed with only a simple powerpoint slideshow (operated by her on stage!), an ornate rug and a small wooden chair.
The content is fairly simple, packed with warmly amusing anecdotes about her experiences in the industry and touching stories about her friends and background. Toksvig delves into her heritage (her father was a foreign correspondent for Danish television), her past and her lifestyle. It's honest and fresh, and for the most part great fun. Certainly hearing about her experiences in the first all-female Cambridge Footlights troupe is fascinating. If anything, I'd have loved to hear more.
As with any comedy show, moments of the piece misfire slightly, particularly some awkward moments of audience participation, but she never bats an eyelid and neither do we. Toksvig has the audience in the palm of her hand. I certainly don't think any other show would manage to have a packed Pleasance Grand audience on their feet conducting an invisible orchestra to Beethoven's Ode To Joy.
I desperately want to have a cup of tea with Sandi Toksvig, and to spend hours quizzing her on her fascinating experiences and opinions. My Valentine, however, is an excellent alternative, feeling genuinely personal and entertaining. Unlikely though it is that I'll ever spend an afternoon drinking tea with Sandi, I left the show feeling just a little like I had.
- Chris Snow
Sandi Toksvig: My Valentine continues at Pleasance Courtyard until 11 August