Thursday, 28 March 2013

Lucy Porter review

Mum's the word - a review of Lucy Porter at the Corn Exchange, Newbury

(This review appeared in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, 21st March)

Lucy Porter‘s friendly voice has been missing from her usual Radio 4 panel shows of late, so it was a real treat to see her in the flesh when she appeared at the Corn Exchange with her show People Person.

She explained her absence in recent months by explaining that she’d been pregnant twice in the same tax year – a phenomenon which is apparently known as “Irish twins” but is “nothing to do with Jedward”.

As all new mothers will know, those first months with a young baby can be lonely and isolating, so the first half of the show sets the scene about her need to find like-minded friends and to audition for new ones to replace those she’s lost. “In your thirties your friends just disappear. I don’t mean they die, they move to Birmingham, which is worse.”

The first half sees Porter talking about motherhood and she sets the scene by taking us right from her disastrous first date with her husband (not to push the Jedward joke, but who turns out to be fellow comedian Justin Edwards, who plays politician Ben Swain in The Thick of It), right through to their wedding, conception and the trauma of buying a Swedish pram.

In her laidback and chatty style, she then recounts how the befuddled new mum can easily be convinced that she should be taking her children out to a whirlwind of activities such as classical music performances for infants and baby salsa.

With motherhood often comes an overdose of daytime television and I always knew that too much of the BBC’s Dom Littlewood, whom Porter describes as a “Cockney Gollum”, would send people over the edge. Watching his programme about benefit scroungers prompted Porter to develop an unhealthy obsession with the Argos website reviews, before taking advice from pregnancy magazines to get out and be sociable, if not to become a “mumpreneur”, a neologism which made the whole Newbury audience wince.

There’s no ground-breaking comedy here and nothing is demanded from the audience, except perhaps to picture what might be meant by a “wizard’s sleeve”. However, Porter is a charming raconteur and gives such detailed background to her anecdotes and the characters therein that it is like chatting to a friend.
How fitting then, that the second half of her show turns to an actual incident where she encounters her ideal new best mate. Starting with a chance meeting in her local cafĂ©, where the two share a love of the same author and similar tastes in music, the episode has a twist that you’ll see coming but doesn’t dampen the impact.

All in all, it’s a feel-good evening about friendship, motherhood and according to the Argos website, “batteries being an excellent source of power.”

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