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Luisa Omielan: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

If Beyonce were to do a Fringe show, she would be lucky to capture half the energy newcomer Luisa Omielan brings to this intense, funny and manic hour of soul-baring comedy.

The premise, roughly, is that Omielan admires and envies the ultimate diva – not a dirty word in her lexicon but an empowering one – because of her success, her modern brand of feminism, her stable relationship and her near-universal popularity. Dumped by her boyfriend and finding herself living back at home with Mum and unclogging a toilet with a stick, the struggling comedian wonders just where life went wrong over her 29 years.

But such a straightforward description of this show cannot hope to do justice to the onslaught of demented, passionate stand-up she serves up, punctuated with snatches from Beyonce’s back catalogue that have the audience pumped up for a party.

Omielan dances around to the hits, too, sacrificing any professional detachment  to actively make sure the room is full of life. Scenes from her blighted life are acted out with hugely exaggerated physical and vocal quirks; depending on context, she squawks lines outrageously, or adopts coy ‘Southern belle’ tones to play the innocent. It’s a form of semi-controlled madness often missing from the careful stand-ups that are so in vogue thanks to risk-averse telly folk.

The show’s a bit raw, a bit rough around the edges, but that only serves to make it more exciting: a comic performing from the heart not from her seven-year business plan. Although the performance is irresistibly full-on, bordering on the demented, it’s entirely natural… you have some sympathy for the ex, if she’s anything like this in real life, ‘high maintenance’ wouldn’t begin to cover it.

Superficially, the subject matter sometimes covers familiar ground: break-ups, the etiquette of texting after a one-night stand, the linguistic faux pas of her Polish mother… but it’s never been done like this before. And lest you think this is all about daily problems she dumps a load of depression on to the show, yet discusses it with a lightness of touch that doesn’t trivialise.

Big topics covered with showmanship, oomph and lively  tunes – this is exactly what Beyonce would do. There’s only one word for it: Bootylicious.

Review date: 25 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ Sofi’s Southside

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