Janice Phayre: With Occasional Showers

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Janice Phayre’s a performer brave enough to bare bits of her body for the sake of comedy – but a lot more reluctant to bare any of her soul.

That’s very frustrating for what’s supposed to be an autobiographical show, as we get only the most fleeting of glimpses of the real woman behind the bubbly, jittery, eager-to-please persona she presents on stage.

She’s a manic ball of excitable energy, chivvying the audience along and giving her silly gags the hardest of hard sells, always tongue-in-cheek. She generates a good atmosphere like a skilled compere, but when it comes to the main attraction, it’s much more of a struggle.

The original core idea was that she would ask her friends to write sketches about what she is like, which she could then analyse using her psychology training to reveal her true self, as seen through the impartial eyes of others.

But somewhere along the line, this gets greatly underplayed. She received a poem, which she lost before getting to Edinburgh, a song and one character sketch, which imagines her, unflatteringly, as a lonely middle-aged gypsy woman. And those few short minutes are all that’s left of the original idea.

It’s a shame, as these show a lot of promise. Phayre is not very good at performing as the real her, so these projections offer different characters to hide behind. Plus she’s a talented performer, and the way she flits between the ‘stage’ her and the ‘lonely gypsy’ her is very nicely done.

But other attempts to open up, talking about a relationship break-up or her occasional depression, don’t illuminate anything, because she won’t let them. She devotes much more time to a routine about finding her car covered in bird shit than she does to anything of substance.

She also loves talking dirty – as any lapsed Irish Catholic is wont to do - and the show is awash with plenty of cheeky filth, including an outrageous visual finale that is absolutely hilarious.

But it was a very bumpy ride getting there. Phayre, it seems, is at an odd crossroads. The crazy energy is all she currently has to offer - but it’s also holding her back from addressing things in the way you suspect she really wants to.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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