Katherine Ryan: Glam Role Model | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre
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Katherine Ryan: Glam Role Model

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre

Katherine Ryan is like the very best sort of women’s magazine, luring in the casual punter with soft material about celebrities and motherhood as a Trojan Horse for the smarter attitude and more hard-hitting substance that follows.

This entertaining hour, which flies by, pivots on a story about her going though her ex-partner’s phone – ‘like a champion’, since there’s never anything remotely apologetic about her as her rainbow-and-unicorn leggings would attest. On it, she discovered explicit photographs sent by a glamour model, prompting the collapse of that relationship. Personal affront, laced with a generous serving of common-sense feminism, gives this routine a real bite, and leads into musings about everyday commercial sexualisation that are as pointed as they are funny as they are relevant.

Before this point, Glam Role Model coasts along on a diet of Harry Styles, Cheryl Cole and Cara Delevinge’s eyebrows mixed in with ‘kids say the funniest things’-style observations about her ‘flatmate’ – or four-year-old daughter. On motherhood, she finds new stories addressing old problems, such as maintaining a sex life with an inquisitive toddler around, but it doesn’t feel like classic material. Similarly her showbizzy topics can be slow-paced, but are frequently graced with sharp lines, such as her exquisite comment perfectly encapsulating how we know the minutest movements of celebrities but not vastly more important things.

Like much in her set, it skirts the edges of good taste, but contains an honest truth.Ever-confident Ryan built her comedy on offensive comments delivered matter-of-factly, but as she adds more depth, the rewards are greater.

After a cold beginning, thanks to the way the show rather too casually gets going, the Canadian-born comic soon warms in performance, deploying her useful acting talents to pull off a convincing Essex girl accent for the glamour model – even if her shaky Geordie is more South Wales than South Sheilds. And when it comes to demonstrating the fundamental differences between Miley Cyrus’s victim-mentality twerking versus Beyonce’s powerful gyrating, her energetic commitment to the dances – and the gurning – are what makes the difference between having a great point and having a great comedy routine.

The show closes not with this high-energy bit, but with a bold routine about an abortion clinic that is very deftly handled. Such material is almost certain to make some people nervous, but she discusses it with humour and honesty so that even the edgier comments avoid the excesses of bad taste. A couple of years ago, she probably wouldn’t have been so confident a comic to resist the cheap shock,so even if Glam Role Model isn’t all she is capable of – and I suspect it isn’t – it has all the hallmarks of an increasingly assured comic, without skimping on the laughs.

Review date: 30 Apr 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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