Live Review: Ruby Wax, Leicester Square Theatre

I haven’t seen many comedy critics reviewing Ruby Wax’s latest show, Frazzled. But then again it doesn’t quite fit into the conventional comedy template. There are certainly plenty of gags but Wax has a serious message, raising awareness of mental health and working out how we deal with modern life and the stress that goes with it. 

Another reason why Frazzled is not being widely reviewed might be because it is pretty similar to her previous show Sane New World. Wax starts off by making familar points about our neurological make-up, that the brain is wonderful thing if only we could master it: “it’s like having a Ferrari on top of your head but no one gave you the keys.” 

For Wax one of the keys is mindfulness. For the ticket price the audience also gets a quick lesson in how to zone in (or is it out?) and clear your brain of stressful thoughts. I tried it and all I could hear was the air conditioning in the theatre. Maybe that was right. I’m not sure if it made me feel any better though. Later we were encouraged to sniff a perfumed card with the name of her latest book on it. If that isn’t subliminal product placement I don’t know what is.

The spiky haired comic (who talks candidly about her own depression) might now have a proper grown-up masters degree from Oxford in cognitive therapy but she can still play it for laughs and there are some beautifully delivered zingers here, from her impersonation of her OCDish Austrian mother insisting on everything in the house being “parallel” to her more topical comment that we all fear Donald Trump hitting the button - not the nuclear one, the Twitter one.  

This is very much a hybrid of a show though. Part Ted Talk, part stand-up. Wax is certainly not short on charisma and is a sympathetic listener during the Q&A at the end. Whether she has any conclusive solutions is another question. Mental health is complicated, though she is certainly doing a good job waxing lyrical about it. But as she pointed out when a member of the audience asked hopefully about ways to come off anti-depressants, maybe mindfulness is not always a perfect one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Maybe there are cases when anti-depressants can help too.

Until June 24. Tickets here.

PS. It has just been revealed that Ruby Wax is going to appear in a future episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

 

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