FRINGE 2020: HarleQueen – The Mill – 3.5K

Comedian Abby Howells takes you on a journey through history, looking at some of the world’s funniest, most successful, and often forgotten women. From a film star of the 1900s that was Charlie Chaplin’s mentor, to famous comedian-turned-reality-star Joan Rivers, we learn about these women and their talents, before understanding that, unsurprisingly, they end up footnotes in someone else’s story.

Abby isn’t going to be someone’s footnote. A comedian turned musical theatre wannabe to comedian again, Abby walks us through her childhood ambitions to be Jerry Seinfeld, to being romanced by one of musical theatre’s greatest stalkers, the Phantom of the Opera.

HarleQueen’s premise is great, and for the 55 minutes of the show, Abby keeps you hooked. It’s some of the parts in the middle where the acts fall flat: a ventriloquist act that goes on far too long, a dance number from Cats (the 1998 straight to video version) which went on far too long…there’s a theme. However, Abby is incredibly charming, winning you over with her quick wit, mega-watt smile, and infectious sense of humour. She manages to mix tragedy and comedy in the final act with aplomb, delivering a gut-punch of a conclusion in a personal and touching way. The second half of the show is where Abby thrives and seemed to gain confidence.

HarleQueen is a great hour of storytelling from a talented young comic, who is destined to join the greats she tells us about – and she’s not going to be sidelined anytime soon.

Kryztoff Rating: 3.5K

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