“You might think this is a shit show,” says comedian Louise Reay, during a rambling link between skits. “But my life is a shit show, and you get to leave after an hour.” It’s a good gag, but there’s also a sense she’s anticipating flak for going off-piste.
The Brighton-based comic recently returned from doing 35 dates in Australia, where she picked up an award as Best Emerging Artist last year. Now she’s back with a show called Eraserhead, playing a hometown gig filled with friends and family. The local support ensures a whooping reaction for her scatty banter and physical comedy routines.
However, what’s billed as a show about “censorship and oppression in modern Britain” turns out about to be a series of amusing but unrelated segments with slides of local park benches, videos of her mother (who is also in the audience) and a story about being stalked by an apparition of her imaginary unborn child.
The show begins with a goofy Talking Heads dance sequence and includes a prolonged childbirth fantasy sequence narrated in Chinese. Reay is a likeable performer with well-pitched personas – sometimes flitting from shrill attention-seeker to preening diva in the same sentence – but it’s just not clear why any of this is happening.
At the very end she explains that her original show had to be pulled for legal reasons. It turns out Reay is being sued by her ex-husband and can’t even really say much about it. We later learn that her case is in danger of setting a worrying precedent in allowing comedians to be silenced through litigation. In the wake of Count Dankula’s Nazi pug, this is a timely and important issue that would make a fascinating comedy show in its own right. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
On the way out we overhear some disgruntled punters claiming the event should have been free since it didn’t deliver what it promised. It sounds like Louise has had a bad year embroiled in legal hell, but if those punters had their way Trading Standards would be after her for false advertising as well.
Komedia, Sunday 6th May 2018
Returns on Sunday 20th May