Helen Bauer: Grand Supreme Darling Princess | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Helen Bauer: Grand Supreme Darling Princess

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Good God, Helen Bauer is a force of nature. She couldn’t have greater command of the room if she was waving a loaded gun.  

Vulnerability doesn’t come easy to her. Fascinated by despots (and even sharing a star sign with three of them), she says she has big dictator energy. And so, in answer to her question about why, in her early 30s, she’s still never had a boyfriend, one of her friends engages in a spot of ‘radical honesty’. Men might prefer her to act as if she needs saving, it is suggested. But how can you be a damsel in distress if you’re the one causing the distress?

This gives Bauer an opportunity to dive into the world of Disney, and what a rich source of material that is, from researching weight limits on theme park rides to messages in the movies.

Sure, we already know about early Disney princesses only finding happiness after being saved by a man, but Bauer magics up some gloriously sinister takes, such as a particularly creepy acting out of the prince discovering an underage and ostensibly dead Sleeping Beauty in the woods.

Interrogating the themes of vulnerability among teenage girls is another strong area in this show, but it’s absolutely not what you’ll hear from anyone else. Bauer shares stories of herself as a bulletproof young babysitter, specialising in neurodivergent kids thanks to her experience of having an autistic sister.

There’s something freeing about Bauer’s honesty and – until we reach a certain point in the show – apparent lack of shame. A lifetime of masturbation, an insatiable desire for attention, uncomfortable parental relationships, disdain for performative empathy, and what you want from a therapist (you pay them to be on your side – going into your real problems would be ‘MENTAL’) are just some of the things she manages to cram into this densely entertaining, cleverly crafted show.

I have a little gripe: there are moments when she mocks those she describes as ‘the basic bitches’ in her fan base, occasionally putting on a familiar whiny voice to put them down. Maybe it’s an in-joke, but it feels like bullying and, given that Bauer is already such a loud and alpha character, she doesn’t need to deploy these techniques for crowd control.

That aside, Grand Supreme Darling Princess is a show that proves Bauer is at the top of her comedic game, and her theme leads us to the most horrendously, bum-clenchingly embarrassing and well-told story I’ve heard all month. You think she doesn’t do vulnerable? Just you wait.

Review date: 23 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Ashley Davies
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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