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Lady Garden: Top Secret Gig

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Nione Meakin

The wonderfully fun-loving Ladyg Garden are back with the follow-up to their triumphant debut – and it's another winner.

Energetic, charming and off-beat in a refreshingly uncontrived way, it's obvious these six women perform for their audience rather than critics, seeking live kicks rather than a BBC deal (though there's one of those in the bag, of course). And their unabashed enthusiasm is infectious.

Employing props to great effect - among them a remote-control helicopter, a set of Russian dolls and, most impressively, a handful of small children - the show's best moments are the ones that rely only on the group's formidable performance skills. Witness excruciating middle-class politeness played out at in an operating theatre, or the horrors of female rivalry as seen in the casting of a school nativity play, where 'access to myrrh' is offered up as a bargaining chip.

Granted, the ideas can be one-dimensional; their 'explosion' of the burlesque genre for example, while light-hearted, is rather obvious for a group so well versed in mocking the subtleties of the female psyche. But in most instances, this issue is bulldozed by the acting.

The fury of a patient being told she has scabies is a slight notion that's worked up to hilarious proportions (Lady Garden have a real knack for a well-timed 'fook off'), likewise the Secret Millionaire spoof, where the initial indignity of the money allocation is only the beginning of the punchline.

The group sometimes dabble with material of a more surreal nature, not fully explored but offering a tantalising glimpse into the potential shape of future outings.

Hannah Dodds's breathy and unfathomable monologues about dusting ornaments or taking a bath are a particular highlight, let down by a later decision to offer an actual pay-off for her catchphrase. The cult of Asda sketch, which gives new meaning to the phrase 'bag for life' is also delightful.

With this much talent and potential, even the terrible name can't hold Lady Garden back.

Review date: 9 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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