Celebrity Autobiography

4 stars

****

This show promises to tell us about celebrities in their own words, although I doubt the celebrities in question ever thought that their words could be used against them to such devastatingly hilarious effect.

The premise is simple – each performer reads out a section of a celebrity’s autobiography.  We hear from such luminaries as David Cassidy (read by Michael Urie), Mr T (read by Tiffany Stevenson), Diana Ross (read by Dale Rehfeld) and David Hasselhoff (read by George Wendt).  Taken out of time and out of context each celebrity’s ego is fully exposed, and their narcissistic concerns laid open to ridicule.  The trick lies in the way each passage is conveyed and the performers deliver each line to perfection, using inflections and gestures to fully milk the laughs from the audience.

A particular highlight was James Lance and Bridget Christie’s juxtaposition of autobiographies written by the literary giants that are Katie Price and Peter Andre.  Andre’s rose-tinted view of his marriage is played perfectly against Price’s coarser guide to bodycare.  What helps the show is obviously the way in which many of the celebrities in question are viewed in light of the tabloid headlines they have generated.  Tiger Woods’ words use of the word ‘putting’ in his autobiography becomes a wonderful euphemism due to the worldwide coverage of his recent dalliances.

This is a delightful show which should serve as a warning to all celebrities thinking about putting pen to paper.  Watch what you write, it may come back to haunt you.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – E4 Cow Barn

19.25 – 20.25

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Stripped

5 Stars

*****

This one-woman show by Hannah Chalmers promises to take us behind the scenes of what goes on in the dark, deceiving world of the Strip Club.  So what were my preconceptions upon going into this show?  I envisaged a seedy world, full of catfights, bitching and cynicism.  And this view wasn’t entirely disproved.

The plot is based around the entry of ‘Baby’ into the world of stripping.   Throughout Chalmers adopts a number of different guises: Baby herself, the stern house mum Donna, the two-faced Portia, bumbling punter Geoffrey and the thoroughly loathsome stip club manager.  Chalmers plays Baby with a sweet naivety that proves a touching counterpoint to the somewhat more uncomfortable moments of the show.  We follow her progress as she loses her innocence and adopts the world-weary attitude of the other girls in the club – that men are there to be manipulated.  Baby is a well-rounded character, and you feel for her as you see her taken advantage of in a number of ways.  However, as the show progresses you find your loyalties shift.  As Baby becomes accustomed to her situation you wonder who exactly is taking advantage of whom.

Chalmers is an engaging performer and seamlessly shifts character, clearly distinguishing each.  Her talent engages throughout and as a result the audience genuinely experience a number of emotions as we follow the story: sympathy, revulsion, outrage.  But if all this sounds a bit dark, don’t worry. Chalmers endeavours to show that there is also humour to be found in Baby’s situation, particularly in her audition routine for the club.  As her stream of consciousness pours forth it showed the touching human side to the character, exhibiting her hope and fears and drawing a number of laughs from the audience.

From this grubby world, Baby emerges, tarnished, but still holding on to her fundamentally sweet nature.  It’s undoubtedly a show that will not cater to everyone’s tastes, but it more than fulfilled mine.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Gilded Balloon, Sportsman’s Bar

16.15 – 17.15

Be-Dom

4 stars

****

If you want to start your afternoon with a bang, a boom or even a rat-a-tat-tat, then I thoroughly recommend attending Be-Dom at E4’s Udderbelly.  There you’ll spend an hour clapping and clicking along to the delights of these Portugese performers.

The show begins behind a large curtain, the backlit performers’ shadowy figures projected forward.  Soon enough the curtain is whipped away to reveal a space populated by a colourful array of, well, ‘stuff’.  A technicolour junkyard filled with TVs, bottles, barrels and buckets, all of which are used by the performers to create a wonderful sound.  Never has the term ‘tub thumping’ seemed more appropriate.   The choreography is wonderful to behold and the sheer joyful physicality of the performers engaged the audience throughout.  What seems ramshackle at times obviously took a lot of skill and practise to put together.

The show is divided into a number of different sketches and skits, all of which allowed the performers to develop a sense of their characters.  In addition, the gentle audience interaction allows you to contribute to the show in a delightful way.  The end of the show drew the crowd to their feet, appreciative of a genuinely entertaining hour.

Allow me to quote the highest recommendation, which came from the lady sitting next to me: “It’s the type of show you could recommend to everyone – you could bring your kids or your granny.”  Upon leaving the show a number of the younger audience members were tapping at various parts of their bodies, trying to recreate the sound that had kept them enthralled.  I fear for their parents’ kitchen cupboards, which will no doubt be raided so that they can ‘Be-Dom’ away into the evening.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – E4 Udderbelly

14.00 – 15.00