Live Review: Brighton Fringe – Ladyface, The Warren: The Burrow

Lucy Farrett's cavalcade of comic characters are shot through with tension and underground anarchy, the high octane music that soundtrack her pogo-ing costume changes reinforcing the subliminal punk element each hold.

Her creations are brittle, uniquely broken in an intriguing way, to the extent that some aren't even identified by names – although clearly portrayed with the briefest of props or wardrobe change. In fact, it's worth mentioning that this brevity of costume change only builds on the underlying dangerous tension, Ladyface's core outfit of a pink tutu, matching leotard and cowboy boots always remaining like a stick of dynamite with a variety of adornments. 

Start at the beginning. A strong opener from what turns out to be 'Annie Cotton', pox-ridden poet from the Middle Ages, dressed in black bin bags and setting the off-kilter tone for the hour as a strangely articulate serf. The writing is strong, the delivery is focussed, and Farrett compels you to watch. Skits are not long, and the characters well-formed for the most part. 'Geraldine' is another good idea of a Greek Cassandra figure, cursed through history with great insight but not believed – lovely as the concept develops with Julius Caesar, but by her third appearance becoming a bit of a one-joke pony. 

The ghastly horse-owning child of horrendously wealthy snobs however is a character I never tired of being further introduced to. So well developed, perversely likeable as she spouts the most appalling opinions acquired from Mama and Papa, she is the Violet Elizabeth Bott Show from Richmal Crompton's 'William' series but with less self-awareness. 

Ladyface has the feel, in essence, of a television pitch show. It's easy to see Farrett with her own E4 or BBC Three series, chopping with complete catchphrases from one comic scene to the next. And as such it starts strongly but as the 'energy dip' point in the live hour performance arrives the show makes no concession for it, and her audience and her costume-change-pogo-ing starts to fatigue. The later skits feel less worked, having seen the strength of what could be achieved earlier on. That's not to say they're poor, but fade by comparison. The conclusions of some characters added on, unnecessary – as they would've been for that ongoing TV series. 

Lucy Farrett's Ladyface, at the end of the day, is a great showcase and a good show. Utilising her Bette Davis eyes, Susan Sarandon swagger and Suzi Quatro attitude – her dynamic comic anarchic tension has already attracted the likes of cult writer Neil Gaiman as an admirer, with more surely to come once the whole of her show reaches the quality she establishes from the beginning that we know she can reach. 

More about Ladyface here.

Pictures: © Francesca Moore


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