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Show type: Melbourne 2010
Ursula Martinez: My Stories, Your Emails
Ursula Martinez has written some true stories. Some strangers have sent her unbelievable emails.
Combining spoken word, live art, character comedy and stand-up, Ursula invites you to meet the ordinary and extraordinary characters in her life - and her inbox.
My Stories Your Emails is an hysterical and uncompromising portrait of herself and an investigation into identity, relationships, confession, obsession, miscommunication, the Internet, fame, sex, loneliness...and political incorrectness.
An astute observer of the world around her, Ursula Martinez is herself avidly watched by people all over the world. Now she's back with another unique, genre-busting performance in her first truly solo creation presented exclusively by Malthouse Theatre during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Ursula Martinez: My Stories, Your Emails
If you know Ursula Martinez at all, it’s most likely from her alternative cabaret act Hanky Panky, in which she produces and vanishes a silk handkerchief while wearing fewer and fewer clothes, ending up completely naked.
My Stories, Your Emails is an attempt to reveal something else: the real person behind the provocative turn. The first half thus, erm, fleshes out her personality with tales from her past – from the malapropisms of her Spanish mother to the time she performed at Salman Rushdie’s stag party.
Although the sections are brief and the material personal, this isn’t stand-up, but a more theatrical experience. These tales are read from behind a lectern, with underplayed emotion that matches the sombre business suit in which she performs. She is an accomplished actor, though, conveying utter distain with a withering glance or perfectly capturing the accent of the East End male. The stories, and stray facts, demonstrate an appealing economy of writing, too, drawing witty, vivid pictures sure to raise a chuckle.
So far so good, but the show becomes something else in the second half, after Martinez has shown us the routine that made her name. Inevitably, the footage appeared on the internet, and just as inevitably it attracted the sort of interest Martinez didn’t really want. As a professional attention-seeker, it’s hard to police exactly what attention you get.
Those who contacted her on the strength of the clip knew little of the context of the routine, or of the person behind it, which the first act of this show served to establish. Instead, they are pervy men attracted to a video of strong, naked woman on the internet – and their correspondence with her ripe for mockery.
But therein lies the rub. Aside from the chap who sent in photograph of his erect 19cm penis, the feeling is that these are vulnerable, sad and lonely men who reached out to someone through the web. Their approaches might have been slightly inappropriate, but largely these messages are the awkward interaction of the socially inept, rather than drawling, threatening lust of the sexual predator.
At worst, her laughing so publicly at these correspondents is exploitative, as it’s not made clear how much consent these men gave to their contributions. But even at best, the sympathies lie too much with the sad saps who wrote in, rather than the woman mocking them in front of a couple of hundred strangers.
Anyone who’s ever had a romantic knockback – which is surely almost everyone – may find it difficult to laugh at Martinez’s putdowns, however well presented and engrossingly performed it is. And yes, she does ‘get her minge out’ as promised, which will probably do little to reduce her email inbox.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 13th Apr, '10|
Review by Steve Bennett
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