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Tanyalee Davis: Big Trouble in Little 'Gina

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Julia Chamberlain

This is not so much a show as an organ recital, with a list of symptoms, body parts and medical crises. that have befallen TanyaLee Davis.  It’s brutal to say, but just because it happened to you, it doesn’t make it funny, even if you are world class Canadian comedian.

  It is testament to Davis’s charisma as a performer that 50 minutes on getting very sick, going to hospital and not dying, discussed in somewhat nautical language, and with photos, is more fun than if a friend insisted on regaling you with the intimate details of recent surgery.  But at least the friend might have the grace to realise that it’s not that interesting and would ask if you wanted all the gory details.

Words like ‘perky’, ‘plucky’, ‘chipper’ all come to mind as TLD perches on a stool on stage, flower in hair, skirts spread out like a Southern belle, chirrups away in her light, polite, Canadian tones. She tells us about blow jobs, sore genitals and the joys of 40-plus sex, alongside her doomed womb, massive bleeding and as many synonyms for a vagina as she can cram in.  It’s not offensive – this is a medical, not social or sexual event – but it does become wearing, although there may be word fans out there busting to collect a few new terms for an old hole.

She’s endearing, positive, frank and always engaging, but the narrow scope of the show is surprising. We’ve had my stroke, heart attack, addiction, alcoholism and  therapy shows on the Fringe, but  these are used to open up a world view, to reveal an expanded horizon, but this is pretty much the narrative of ‘I’ve been ill, my (famous) friends rallied round, my mum helped out and I’m alright now’. It’s not an uncommon experience.  

There are laughs, mainly derived from her family idiosyncrasies. But while I understand TLD might have wanted to do the show to celebrate surviving a horrible and fearful time, for a paying audience it’s a chat they could have had  with  a particularly forthright  sick relative.

Review date: 11 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain

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