Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Lucy McCormick sends the boys in first – all torso and bin bagged. She follows in a screech and assaults the stage before giving us a dance sequence that is the flavour of things to come. This, she explains, is her trying out new material which looks at powerful women. We are then given Eve, Boudicca, Florence Nightingale and Ann Boleyn – with a passing reference to Lady McBeth. With a smattering of audience participation, including penguin gags, we head towards an ending that strips things – literally bare.
There are things in here to like. The section on Eve is well measured and works very well. As it is at the start, we get a real high line to begin. The ending of this section which includes “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” is inspired. The snake leaving is also a beautiful exercise in milking a moment.
Boudicca is less impressive and climbing all over the audience who are to be the Romans may tick the audience participation box but not much more.
The smaller set pieces – Lady McBeth and laughing in the face of death – are sufficiently well layered that there is something in there that is very funny but could develop into something that is bleeding hilarious.
By Florence Nightingale and Ann Boleyn the material was beginning to wane a little and that’s a real pity. McCormick’s delivery style is dry enough to bring most things from contempt to contemptuous. Given the material and the fact that HERstory rather than HIStory is a popular concept I thought we could have been treated to better narratives and spectacles. A second tomato sauce bottle under the stool didn’t really make me laugh out loud for example.
What made me more entertained was both McCormick as a songstress and the dance routines. Both are exceptionally good but relying on them would be a mistake because the comedy has strength. There were also times during the performance where, particularly when singing, the notes were missed and it was beginning to feel like it was a bit too much effort needed.
This is wrapped up in a production budget that gives us smoke, throws lots of soil, flowers and Sainsbury’s frozen blueberries onstage whilst having enough of a production number or two that we had rock and roll in a comedy format.
The audience was rolling in the aisles and they were fully paid up members of Lucy’s angry brigade. I was less enamoured and less in thrall. I am not, however, the target audience. I have to give credit to a truly good mistress of her methods but things like the Brexit gag and the ending which I hope was more Paul Daniels than Paul Raymond, leaves me cold; not because I am prudish, but because I couldn’t find the humour.