Hatty Ashdown: Nan Child And Other Workings

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Hatty Ashdown defines Nan Child as the offspring of a much older mother. It comes, she says, from the school gates, when all her classmates used to think she was being collected by her grandmother, rather than her mum.

It’s not, perhaps, the strongest of threads on which to hang an entire show, but Ashdown sustains it though infectious good humour and quirky enthusiasm. The lack of substance isn’t going to detract from an entertaining 50 minutes.

The idea is that she was something of a strange, lonely child, lost in her own world with no siblings of a similar age. Meanwhile her Mum always seemed old, in her tight grey curls and conservative values. Cue all the usual stereotypes about the older generation, from their penchant for toilet-roll cosies to the overcooking of cabbage.

There are some nostalgic reminiscences about her boot-sale-bought Sindy dolls, obligatory embarrassing old photos, and contemplation about whether her solitary upbringing has made her the slight oddball she is today -– a marzipan-munching attention-seeker, who has taken on all manner of demeaning jobs in a bid to inch her way off the lowest rung of the showbusiness ladder. But look at her now, performing to fewer than 20 people in a dark Leicester basement that, irritatingly, has no means of illuminating the stage.

Though essentially a collection of disconnected routines on the subject of herself, Ashdown runs them together so naturally, the shows is given some sense of purpose, and a neat visual callback at the end is just enough to tie up proceeding in a neat bow, without labouring the point or breaking the illusion that this is just an affable chat among mates.

Nan Child – which was first performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe – might not be the show to propel her to fame – but it does successfully showcase her innate funny bones. It should, at least, earn her enough kudos for a venue with a lightbulb or two next year.

Review date: 8 Feb 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Manhattan 34

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