Review: Please Help, BBC Three/iPlayer

Review: Please Help, BBC Three/iPlayer

You might recognise Lucy Pearman from her work with Spencer Jones in The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk and Mister Winner. Or you might not. You might even have seen her at the Edinburgh Fringe where she has picked up award nominations and plaudits for her inventive, oddball shows. If you've seen her anywhere you will know that she has a distinctive, decidedly left-field sense of humour and is fond of an imaginative flight of fancy. If you like that sort of thing do watch Please Help.

In this one-off comedy penned by Pearman, she plays Milly, a young woman living on a farm whose life is dominated by caring for her grandmother. The stress of this seems to send her over the edge. She starts hallucinating, imagining she is disappearing and/or floating above tables when she is on dates. Tim Key crops up as the voice of a horse that starts talking to Milly. 

It also features Anna Calder-Marshall, Harry Peacock, David Mumeni, Edward Bluemel and Toby Williams.

There are lots of memorable moments, from Milly getting stressed about gran's bum falling out to having a confrontation with lewd workmen and lobbing their mobile phone so high in the air it doesn't come down. Is she going mad? Has she developed superhuman powers? Is it all down to sexual frustration, as is suggested at one point? You could call it comic magic realism if you want.

This is one of those comedies that can be read on at least two levels. It's daft fun, certainly, but it also seems to be making a serious comment about the pressure put on the mental health of individuals by the inadequacy of the NHS care system, which can place a heavy burden on family members. And then on top of that there are comments about male misogyny and sexism, both contemporary and historical. But above all, as I said, it's daft fun. Not sure if it could be spun out into a series but whether we see more of Please Help we should certainly be seeing more of Lucy Pearman.

Watch Please Help on iPlayer here.

Picture: BBC/Tiger Aspect/Greg Allen

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