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Diane Spencer: All-Pervading Madness

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Let’s be clear, Diane Spencer is not a 5.45-in-the-afternoon type of show. She starts where last year’s gross-fest left off, a physical wreck after the messily exhausting resolution of a digestive complaint – and things get progressively worse from there.

This is the sort of no-blushes-spared monologue that requires her to stop partway through, just to check that everyone in her audience is OK. Coprophilia, anal incursions and – apparently the most disgusting of the lot – the hair growing out of her facial mole all feature as prominent sidebars in a story ostensibly about her trying to get home after a dreadful late-night gig.

Yet for all the graphic areas into which she freely ventures; she professes to be squeamish in one area herself – gory horror films. Unlike Saw 6, though, Spencer does at least offer some temporary relief from the more full-on aspects of her story, with more straightforward descriptive segments about the various creatures of the night she encountered on the streets and public transport of London; from the humourless night bus driver to the tramp who claimed he was an undercover cop.

For this is a storytelling show more than it is a bid to offend, even if the story is post-watershed. She’s careful to ensure a narrative that constantly moves forward, and frequently launches fresh strands that feed into the main yarn, tying it all up nicely at the end. There’s a couple of apparent contrivances you might not want to pick at too much for fear of unravelling them, but Spencer’s got the friendly energy to ensure the audience go with the flow.

The tale is told in a matter-of-fact, conversational style that endears her to the audience even through the less palatable sections. That and her well-spoken Blue Peterish voice gives her great latitude to cross lines. You can say almost anything if your timbre has class.

Everything is done in the spirit of self-deprecation, too. Although her ex is the butt of a good many the jokes (although ‘butt’ is probably not the best word to use here), it’s Spencer’s own physical and social problems that provide most fuel for her comedy fire, even if she outwardly appears pretty together. She’s certainly confident and open enough to guide the audience assuredly through this raucously entertaining hour.

Review date: 8 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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