Daring, charismatic, and blooming hilarious
Amaya Holman’s one woman stand-up show proved to be an evening of unadulterated laughter, bringing tears of joy and emotion in turn, and inviting a well-deserved standing ovation.
For a show that proclaims mayonnaise to be its dominant theme, Amayonnaise covers an exceptionally wide range of issues, including growing up, sex, the pressures of Cambridge, tinder antics, mental illness, bisexuality, and so many others. Amaya bounds between these topics with the stage presence, charisma, and charm of one completely in her element. And it is the sensitivity combined with a wicked sense of humour that really brings this show to the fore, the way that Amaya approaches relatable issues and taboo topics, slipping between song and sketch, with the audience hanging onto her every word and glance for the full hour.
We are first ushered before a chaise-longue and a stage which is adorned with clusters of mayonnaise packets hanging from the ceiling. Already there is a palpable sense of anticipation, heightened by the clip projected onto the walls, in which there is a knowing wink at Amaya’s propensity for lateness. After a few pats of mayo-moisturiser are applied, we’re in.
Immediately there is the sense that the audience is participating in a late-night rant and gossip with Amaya. She feeds off the audience beautifully, even dragging an unfortunate victim onstage to hold her mayonnaise during her song about misogyny, and giving her mum a shout-out during particularly embarrassing anecdotes. One particularly demonstrative round of laughter elicits a deadpan, "quite" from the ever composed performer.
Amaya’s comic timing is spot-on, and her energy seems limitless. As the sole performer, she utterly enchants her audience with the variety of her vocal and physical impressions (including of herself encountering a Tinder match in a club, and as a future mother quite deficient in the nurturing area: "school gives you hot dinners, darling, mummy gives you hot TAKES!" she declares with relish at her malnourished hypothetical child). If there is anyone who can pull off a one woman show with her variety and brilliance – despite her protestations to the contrary – it is Amaya.
But what was most striking about the evening was the directness with which she approached issues. At one point during a song about things she hates, she slips in "glamourisation of the western military" among Zumba and arachnids, illustrating perfectly her style: utterly hilarious but with real impact and social commentary. Towards the end of the play, Amaya addressed the issue of mental illness and specifically her own in a deeply inspirational manner. And this was the driving force behind the whole show, her success story in dealing with depression among other things, and comedy as being a source of hope. With her typical magnetism, Amaya swiftly brings us back to the comedy, but we retain this knowledge and take it onboard in our appreciation of her final satirical song.
And so a one woman comedy show about mayonnaise came to stand for and inspire so much more than just your everyday condiment (though mayo certainly plays no small role).