Felicity Ward Reads From The Book Of Moron

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Felicity Ward was one of the undeniable discoveries of last year’s festival: ‘A force of nature,’ I called her then, based on her often frenziedly animated delivery of warped tales from her weird excuse for a life.

This year, she’s calmed the pace right down. As the title suggest, this is a storytelling show, so she dons a smoking jacket, taps her pipe and settles down in the comfy armchair in front of the fire (or a cardboard representation thereof, health and safety duly taken into consideration) to regale us with yarns of her own ‘arseholery’. It is a seemingly bottomless well.

But the format is too restricting for a performer of her eccentric energy, feeling too often as if the F1 car of her comedy has been fitted with a speed limiter. Occasionally the 29-year-old revs her engines, often when engaging with an audience member, but mostly she’s idling. The gentle strumming of her ‘dog’ – aka fellow sketch performer James Pender – lulled the energy to even lower levels.

The stories are charming and entertaining, on the whole – though as ‘bad gig’ war stories go, a well-paid bar mitzvah where they simply chatted through her set scores so low on the scale, it barely seems an incident worth repeating.

However, her well-meaning encounter with a disabled Big Issue salesman is a paragon of toe-curling awkwardness, while her attempts to reclaim the acute embarrassment of her irritable bowel syndrome result in some gloriously unladylike tales of childhood mortification that will stick with you a long time – no matter how hard you try to expunge the awful images.

The one advantage of Ward’s more restrained delivery is that you can concentrate on the writing without distraction. And what a skilful wordsmith she is, turning some delightful metaphors on the lathe of her humiliation, that quoting out of context could never hope to do justice to. You get a second chance to savour the linguistic artistry, too, as some of the routines are contained in an impressively-produced glossy programme handed out at the end of the hour. Very slick.

But such classiness, which pervades the show, is rather at odds with the nature of the enjoyably uncomfortable anecdotes exposing Ward in all her glorious flaws. Naturalistic stand-up, not theatrical gloss, would serve the cause far better.

Review date: 1 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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