Here's a bit of cognitive dissonance for you: what do you call someone who knows that psychics and fortune tellers are nothing but peddlers of bullshit but also goes to see them quite a lot? In general you'd probably call them quite confused. In this instance, you'd call them comedian Celia Pacquola.
She knows, she knows. She's come up with a collective noun: a scam of psychics. But who among us wouldn't love it if all those easy routes worked out? If healing crystals really did bypass the need for a gym membership and paying £40 to have someone tell you soothing lies for half an hour was a reasonable substitute for sitting down and having a hard think about your life? God everything would be a lot easier. And so Pacquola jumps off into an hour of stand up which blends observational comedy with some quite personal and dark glimpses into her psyche — for an upbeat, enthusiastic person with an excellent line in self deprecation, she's got a lot of stuff going on.
It's no surprise that this show won the Amused Moose award at Edinburgh over the summer (Amused Moose works on the wisdom of crowds principle — a load of reviewers vote for their favourite shows, so there's a wider spectrum of opinion than the Foster's Awards). There's charm, smarts and the trick that the best comedians manage to pull off, of allowing you to view the world through someone else's eyes for a while.
Her command of words is powerful enough to rapidly conjure various scenarios before skewering them (the small, sole detail of a tarot reader wearing a purple dress tells you all you need to know) and there's also physical comedy with, among others, impressions of beds. One note of atmospheric warning: her description of a Melbourne heatwave gets a helping hand from the perennial lack of ventilation in the Soho Theatre's Upstairs venue — it may be well into autumn and your sweater may be a thin one, but it's still not thin enough. Sweater indeed.
Celia Pacquola: Let Me Know How It All Works Out is on at Soho Theatre, Dean Street W1, until 1 November. Tickets £12.50/£10. Londonist saw this performance on a complimentary ticket.