Monday, 13 November 2017

REVIEW: The Very Perry Show at The Hen & Chickens Theatre

Some people collect coins or stamps, some others, like me, collect banana stickers. Katy Perry collects people and, during The Very Perry Show, revives some of these people in a lively stand-up comedy. From the moment she steps on stage as herself, talking directly to the audience, I can tell she's a fringe veteran, cheerful and confidently addressing her intimate crowd.

Her 60-minute show is a jewel box of different human instances, with fully-fleshed characters aged 6 to 75. First on stage is Carmel, a pensioner from Northern Ireland obsessed with Ken Barlow from Coronation Street. She secretly hates her best friend and is remarkably well informed on the lives of other villagers.

When Perry re-emerges from the sketch, she finds a little red diary in her pocket, belonging to 12-year-old Susy. She's been ejected from boarding school for wiping out the chemistry lab and returns home to find her mother comatose with a cocktail of antidepressants and amphetamines. Fascinated by her state of stupor, she decides to produce a documentary for BBC called 'Mummy on the Brink', which causes havoc amongst the spectators.

The least developed persona of the bunch is a grim middle-aged woman known as Green Tragedy. Her thirst for revenge against her authoritative father emerges in full when he's taken ill in hospital, but a sight-related misjudgement has an unpredictable outcome.

Entertaining other passengers on a long-haul flight, is six-year-old chatterbox Bridget. She's one of Perry's most accomplished impersonations and one of her comedic highlights. Sipping through a straw in a can of Coke and wearing pilot goggles, she comes fully equipped with tics and devoid of filters. Fond of her father and running a collection to adopt a polar bear, she perfectly embodies the musings of her age.

Jimmy the Pigeon Fancier is the only male character of this compilation and his social ineptitude is justified by a busy schedule caring for the birds. His messy mop of hair and grossly stained jacket once again demonstrates the artist's attention to detail in depicting her human specimens.

The evening's grand finale is offered by Mary Peachy-Bender, a subversive Amish woman, slightly confused on the use of rubber to prevent unwanted pregnancies. She laments having too many children and suffers a Shoofly Pie envy, but luckily finds solace in her husband's working hand, Samuel.

Perry's fine selection of gems benefits from an eloquent lighting design and easily breaks the ice inside The Hen & Chickens' cosy auditorium. After a short run in London, the show is moving to Broadway where hopefully she'll get a larger audience – an essential element for her performance to keep momentum and her comedic genius to fully bloom.

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★★
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