Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone's Watching | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone's Watching

Note: This review is from 2019

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

Suzi Ruffell has a frank and disturbing admission: she's blissfully happy for the first time in her life – ensuring that her comedy career will now disappear down the toilet. And all it took was a simple lifestyle shift to blending fruit.

Thankfully, that's only part of the story, as she's still insecure about her career and liable to misread her new neighbours' sense of humour. But Ruffell has indeed recently got engaged, with her mother's efforts to maintain the surprise enabled and then thwarted by the conventional gender roles that pertain even to lesbian relationships.

For Ruffell is still encountering confusion about gender and sexuality. These tend to involve awkward social misunderstandings rather than blatant homophobia: confusion in the toilets of a theatre she's performing in; a naïve young estate agent, or, most excruciatingly, during her smear test. 

Ruffell is highly adept at mining these humiliations, breaking off from her usual animated strut around the stage or slapping of her thigh for emphasis by suddenly stopping short and widening her eyes in horror. The exploration of her vagina is a particular standout of physical comedy, as she deploys the mic stand as a medical instrument with invasive probing and athletic vigour.

Elsewhere, her lesbianism is more enthusiastically accepted, a little too much so perhaps, as her celebrity earns her a personal shopper in a specialist sex shop. She's perpetually finding that she's not as comfortable in her own skin as she'd like to imagine.

Still, she's keeping up the facade, settling down into cosy domesticity. She and her fiancée have left London to get on the property ladder. And they've taken the decision to adopt, even if she admits to some qualms about raising a child in a world that still contains lingering suspicion and hate about two women together. 

Ultimately though, her joy in her present circumstances wins out – while the story of a New York escapade gives Ruffell's natural, storytelling bonhomie a progressive headwind that's impossible to resist. During the trip to the city’s Pride celebrations – accompanied by fellow comic Tom Allen – she was reduced to a blubbering wreck to see supportive parents accompanying their gay teenagers.

Sections such as the house move are more pedestrian and familiar, robbing the tale of some of its sparkle and distinctiveness. And a 'dance like nobody's watching' storyline appears to have been ditched, while leaving just enough vestiges to slightly distract. 

Otherwise, though, this is another assured step from a comic increasingly breaking out.

Review date: 13 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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