Live Review: Cally Beaton, The Warren, Brighton Fringe

cally beaton

Although not billed as such in the Brighton Fringe brochure, Cally Beaton's show Invisible is a work in progress here. It's a bit of a surprise, and one that is fortunately expressly explained at the top of the show. Beaton is a skilled storyteller and establishes a jovial and candid connection with her audience from the start, extracting laughs nicely as she begins by introducing herself as a 50-year-old single parent single lady. She's talking menopause, and that nice Frenchman who earlier this year declared all women over a certain age – 50 – to be “invisible”. The scene is set for an hour of exposing the feminist fight of the 'Nevertheless She Persisted' banner from the US, personal anecdotes of ageing with vitality and struggles, told through the prism of a talented comic. 

And then Invisible collides with another show entirely. Halfway through the hour Beaton's personal anecdotes on a theme narrow down to a singular story that's engaging, uniquely remarkable, but unmistakably emotionally raw to the touch. The structure moves from a format of truth and laughs that are intelligent and don't flinch, carefully mixed in with peppered punchlines and tangents for pace that knock the patriarchy without knocking men, into a runaway motorway's trap of no way out.  

The tale shares her shattered broken heart and conjures a woman lost and bereft. The only sight of a possible slip road off this highway being a laminated sheet Beaton draws a male member of the audience up to read out for her, disconnectedly outlining her mental health issues in recent years in a manner intended to be light but without the requisite gentle touch it hoped to deliver. 

A completely different attitude and vulnerability, we are rapt but not laughing at Beaton in the second half. She becomes a woman on the edge of survival – quite literally in her Iceland-set story of rejection, blizzards and blind escape.  

It's a work in progress, and still in the works. Both sides of the show explain how Beaton has fought against the unasked for invisibility of the show's title. Hopefully the two will either merge more coherently or one will win out to dominate by the time Edinburgh Fringe comes around in August and the show is declared ready. In the meantime, she leaves us with a sliver of hope for the future as she weathers the literal and hormonal storms still holding on to a sense of adventure. 

Cally Beaton: Invisible is at The Warren on May 23 & 24. Tickets here.



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