Adrienne Truscott’s one-person show takes one of society’s taboos – maybe not the last taboo, but a pretty strong one all the same – and faces it unflinchingly, never veering off towards mere safe, tasteful display. Before the Fringe began, someone said to me: “No, I’m not going to see that show; it’s just exhibitionism, she’s naked from the waist downwards”. And so she is. But hey, it’s the Fringe; I’m up for a bit of exhibitionism, especially when it’s so masterfully played for laughs, and exploited to make points that a heterosexual male just wouldn’t get around to.
And thereby hangs a tale. It’s a part of the show’s plot so I don’t want to spoil it, but how many male comedians do you think take on the mantle of telling rape jokes – and how exactly do they justify doing it? You can find out by seeing this self-billed “one-lady rape”, and do a fair amount of laughing as well.
There’s a lot of what we might call meta-comedy in this show – comedy about comedy, what is acceptable and what is not. But there is also slapstick and physical laughs, more intricate gags and stories, and the odd bad pun (well, all puns are bad aren’t they? – hers were fine!) There’s some vulnerability too, and there are serious points here. Truscott highlights the injustice of being seen to be “asking for it” – the drinking, the skimpy clothes, the having a good time – and offers a nice riff on the “do you want a cup of tea?” scenario, concerning milk in your cereal.
But overall she’s a comedian having fun, re-appropriating material that men cover and collude in. Some of the comedy is a bit rough around the edges, but she is engaging enough to take that risk and get away with it. There are some clever moments of back projection (being naked from the waist down is something she takes full advantage of) and a few great gags.
Some of the material and targets reflect Truscott’s American origins, but she realises this, and has a lovely twist in uncovering a British counterpart. There is even some well-researched local material – she’s been here long enough (days?) and is acute enough to know that Hove is simply funny whatever. It all combines into a good-humoured show that the audience genuinely loved. I went with my female partner, and we spoke to the female audience on either side and behind us; all were enthusiastic about what they’d seen, an important observation to make when discussing such provocative material.
In the end, Truscott is an entertaining and thoughtful stand-up comic, with an energy and perspective that draws you in – and, which despite the challenging subject matter, makes for a good night out. If you want your comedy safe and cutely observational, then she clearly isn’t your woman. But if you’re ready for something raw and adventurous, then she might be.