Tag Archives: Rachel Parris

RACHEL PARRIS: POISE

★★★★

Leicester Square Theatre

RACHEL PARRIS: POISE at Leicester Square Theatre

★★★★

“a clever and entertaining evening”

Rachel Parris hits a lot of classic millennial comedy topics: home ownership, tackling anxiety, the pressures of female perfection. But she does so with a slick confidence, and a consistency which makes her stand up shine.

Her freshest, sharpest jokes are in her patches of satire, as fans of The Mash Report will attest. In Poise she combines topical comedy (maybe national service could be utilised to tackle the childcare crisis) with some bits which are obviously older, her last tour was five years ago. Songs about Liz Truss and the queues at Dover are less topical now, but are still funny, and bring a warm nostalgia to the show.

Her particular brand of comic feminist song brought her prevalence on podcasts like The Guilty Feminist and these work well live, weaved into the whole show. She sits at the piano, belting out memorable songs like ‘What do Women Want?’ (Parris suggests it’s gloves…) and her take on the iconography of the Bond girl, which is a showstopping end to the night.

It’s not only politics though. Parris lays her trepidation about turning 40 bare – admitting her life is in a far better place than on her last tour. She is used to putting her personal life on display, she’s married to fellow comic Marcus Brigstocke, with whom she has a podcast ‘How Was it For You?’ But this show is carefully crafted, allowing the audience windows into her life, without ever going too deep, or baring too much.

Some parts are stronger than others, an a cappella folk number about the wisdom she’s gained with age is a weird note towards the end, though ties the themes together neatly.

There could be more of an overarching story across the show, but as a series of bits, broken up by comic songs which showcase her impressive vocal skills, this makes for a clever and entertaining evening.


RACHEL PARRIS: POISE at Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed on 5th June 2024

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Karla Gowlett

 

Rachel Parris is touring with Poise until 20th October – click on the image below for tour dates and tickets

 

 


 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

SH!T-FACED SHOWTIME: A PISSEDMAS CAROL | ★★★★★ | November 2023
THE AYES HAVE IT! THE AYES HAVE IT! | ★★★★ | November 2023
SH!T-FACED SHAKESPEARE®: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING | ★★★★★ | July 2023
SHIT-FACED SHAKESPEARE: ROMEO & JULIET | ★★★★ | July 2022
A PISSEDMAS CAROL | ★★★★★ | December 2021
SH!T-FACED MACBETH | ★★★★★ | July 2021

RACHEL PARRIS

RACHEL PARRIS

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Austentatious – 4 Stars

Austentatious

Austentatious

Piccadilly Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd January 2018

★★★★

“a cast of actors who clearly enjoy performing together and challenging one another”

 

As a darling of the Edinburgh Fringe, Austentatious features some of the most prominent improv performers working in the UK today. The premise of the show is very, very simple: based on a single made-up title, the cast improvise a full play based on a fictional work of Jane Austen, where anachronisms, quick-wittedness, and the rigors of Regency etiquette collide. Austentatious features live musical accompaniment (improvised, of course) from the piano and violin.

Austentatious is riotously funny. The characteristic formality and stiffness of the epoche is fertile territory for the cast, who clearly revel in poking fun at the outdated setting. What’s more, this is a cast of actors who clearly enjoy performing together and challenging one another; Rachel Parris and Cariad Lloyd, in particular, have the peculiar gift of being able to smile as sweetly as sugar while making life as hard and as hilarious as possible for their fellow performers. The result is a constant stream of belly laughs, ably assisted by musicians and lighting technicians responding to the madness – and even getting a few laughs of their own.

Unfortunately, while other improvised shows may take a plethora of audience suggestions from the outset or demand suggestions on an ad hoc basis, the only suggestion that is taken from the audience in Austentatious is the supposed title of the story. The title given to the performance I watched, Don’t Look Back In Northanger Abbey, influenced only one aspect of the performance; the name of one of the characters. There was otherwise nothing that could not have been prepared beforehand and, therefore, despite being entirely improvised, Austentatious completely fails to offer the audience members the treat of seeing their obscure and wanton suggestions come to life on-stage. Unused suggestions were collected by the cast to be read out at the end as bonus jokes, but this brief section did not occur, presumably for time constraints. However, the cast did find time onstage to plug their merchandise, which struck me as a misplaced priority.

Instead, the story unfurls purely from the heads of the actors, and, despite the hilarity, Don’t Look Back in Northanger Abbey, never really went anywhere. In particular, the characters and plot were mostly very poorly-defined, which is a shame, given that they had not exposed themselves to the danger of audience input. This created a funny but rather static-feeling performance that was somehow at odds with the ‘anything can happen’ attitude improvisation demands. It is easy to imagine that, with so little input from the audience and the stock tropes of the Jane Austen genre, one Austentatious show might feel very much the same as another.

Clearly, running into its sixth year, the cast still haven’t run out of steam, as the show maintains an impressive following of appreciative fans. The question is, with such a talented group of performers, how long it will remain fresh and whether it will be strangled by its own success.

 

Reviewed by Matthew Wild

Photography by Robert Viglasky

 

 

Austentatious

Next Performance 13th February at Piccadilly Theatre

 

 

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