Maddy Anholt: Rent Girl | Review by Jay Richardson
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Maddy Anholt: Rent Girl

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Jay Richardson

With forecasts predicting that the legions of Generation Rent will swell over the next decade, Maddy Anholt's show about being priced out of reasonable London housing looks to address a pressing concern.

Unfortunately, this shallow 50 minutes never explores the root causes of the problem or suggests any viable alternatives. Or more crucially for stand-up, has anything insightful or perceptively witty to say about a situation affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

A self-declared 'Persian princess', of Irish-Dutch parentage and even more exotic ancestry, Anholt set off to find her palace in the metropolis in 2004 aged 17. The reality of the grim accommodation she could afford and the job market she trawled to finance it are recounted with a direct delivery that flickers between despair and an irritable sense of entitlement.

From the top, she makes a big play of two things – her father's similarity to Jesus, as evinced by him being a carpenter, making him the spiritual guide for the dilemmas she must resolve; and euphemism attached to the word 'rent'.

The compromise of her independence, as she ultimately winds up in a nice place subsidised by her no-good, drug-dealing boyfriend ought to have been at the heart of her story. Instead, she robs it of its potency by immediately likening her serial renting status to that of a prostitute. Perusing online ads for work, she's confronted by a series of seedy offers that she must weigh up against more edifying, if less well paid employment, appealing to Dutch Jesus for guidance.

This sets up the possibility of a slide into degradation that's no doubt true for a lot of people struggling to survive in London. But Anholt only pays lip service to it, a comedic conceit that's both distasteful and a dramatic cheat. Likewise, her suggestion that moving from box room to box room made her feel like a 'refugee' is neither presented brazenly enough to be a joke at her own expense, nor justified by her Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

Prior to relating her move to London, she offers a potted history of her adolescence, setting up her love of bands like Destiny's Child and the slow pace of life growing up in Devon, a mono-ethnic place that made her yearn for the big city's melting pot. Defining each year by landmarks in her life and contemporary pop culture, she seeks superficial affirmation from the crowd that they have similar memories, her irritability intensified as they come back with fuller responses than she was anticipating.

There's some so-so anecdotal material about the embarrassing jobs that she was forced to take in London, blagging it to an extent. But these are largely by-the-by, secondary to the living situation she could acquire through them. Closing perfunctorily with a glib, insincere gag about her next move, it's all rather unsatisfying.

Review date: 26 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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