Josie Long: Cara Josephine | Review by Steve Bennett © Giles Smith
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Josie Long: Cara Josephine

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

After whimsy and political activism, Josie Long’s career takes another turn, this time into romantic soul-searching.

She was 31 years when she wrote this show; mourning the collapse of a relationship that should probably have ended long before. As she sees her friends settle down, she is left with an early mid-life crisis, wondering what in her personality has doomed her love life? Is it the type of man she’s drawn to? Her impetuousness? Or a romantic ideal that can never be realised? After all, she has got the ‘heart of a poet,’ she’s keen to tell us. The navel-gazing also examines her background, to see if she may have inherited some ‘bad relationship’ gene from her parents, along with the more welcome trait of inquisitiveness about the world.

In this solipsistic show, that curiosity is directed at herself. She shares her interests from listening to Radio 3 to hanging out in poetry libraries to rock-climbing and other outdoorsy pursuits, pastimes which surprise even her – and which she enjoys with her no-nonsense sister, another yardstick by which she measures her own life. Her poet’s heart is clearly mixed with a bit of Bear Grylls. Despite her empathy, however, there’s a little too much of this self-conscious ‘what am I like?!’ material, though delivered with charm and vulnerability.

However, Long’s chatty, super-enthusiastic manner is as infectious as always. At the start she shrieks with delight every time we get a joke or reference she’s pleased with, a feedback loop of reward between audience and performer. But she soon stops congratulating herself on every neatly witty turn of phrase - which is a good job as she has loads of them.

For all that, her angst about relationships just doesn’t have the impact of her distinctive, impassioned political material, which she’s largely dropped just as we need it most. However there are a couple of flicks of this: Imagining a curious death for Nigel Farage at her hands, or in the form of a book recommendation (Ground Control, about the privatisation of public space) in the middle of another existential crisis.

Comics fretting about their thirty something lives is a more universal genre, even though Long attacks it with lyricism and earnest personal insight. She even emboldens herself to tell a sex story, against her better instincts, which actually treads a affectionate line between love and ikkiness. Jim Jefferies needn’t fear she’s encroaching on his territory.

It wouldn’t be a Josie Long show if it didn’t contain a huge dollop of optimism, as she discovers she CAN love. Maybe everything will be ‘happy ever after’ this time. Certainly she instils her audience with a positive, feelgood feeling that maybe being idealistic and romantic isn’t always such a bad thing after all.

Review date: 7 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 1

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