Theatre Editor KIERAN CORCORAN meets funny feminists, and reacts with the appropriate joy. It was even for a good cause.
ADC Theatre, 9th June, 11pm, Free (donations to Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre)
It can’t have five stars because it’s for charity, or for being involved in the laudable SlutWalk movement. It can’t have any stars for that stuff – these four red badges of glory would still be here if this had been a fundraiser for AC Grayling’s ego.
Minor and inevitable weaknesses aside, the slutfest gave a glut of struttingly competent comedy from comedians (I rankle at ‘comedienne’) who, judging from tonight, ought to have a larger presence in Cambridge comedy at large.
Siân Docksey, compère (commère?) and organiser, was also the evening’s most constant star. Her introduction trod the lines between flippancy, tact and exposition while remembering to have lots of funny bits as well – aided in no small part by her excellent line in silly faces. The best accompanied her final song – exactly the mix of horror and bemusement with which her stalkerish ukelele-pop-parody would be met outside of a stand-up context.
Docksey’s strident leadership was backed up by an able array of songs, poems, sketches and stand-up, which mostly held to her high standard.
Emma Sidi’s ad absurdum take on a drug-addict’s confessional was a highlight – developing ably from the faintly plausible to a comic crescendo, all the while held together by an American accent bulletproof enough to trick me into thinking after that she was an actual American.
Unfortunately a couple of acts didn’t meet the standard set early on – Augstina Dias’ stand-up hinged on mocking a perfectly respectable paper, which isn’t inherently funny, and a look at the AV campaign which was too cursory to seize on much of the potential up for grabs.
Likewise, Charlotte Jeffreys’ prop-comedy, focused around her 12-year-old ‘self’, approached a couple of slightly funny ideas with obvious and unsubtle leads which gave a lot of the game away too early. The weakest acts were those most reliant on props; as occasional off-the-cuff moments from everybody demonstrated, these comedians are more than capable of making us laugh without silly drawings and ‘their old diaries’.
A case-in-point was Matilda Wnek’s excellent routine on unusual rape-alarms (thankfully prop-less). Combining the most forthright engagement with the evening’s theme with only the gentlest use of comic façades, Wnek drew the evening’s loudest and most consistent laughter – and justly so.
A nicely subversive digression on ways men could dress to avoid accusations of rape reached a Stewart Lee-esque comic Zen whereby the sharpness of her social observation of gender inequality existed in the very fact that we were laughing at it. The clunkiness of that explanation is a testament to how instinctively the real thing worked.
As a participation in the SlutWalk whatsit, this show turns the usual hierarchy of walking walks and talking talks on its head (though one sketch managed both). At least for me, this was a much more engaging and thoughtful experience than a parade of the scanty and suggestive – but most of all it was just funny. Do more.