Edinburgh Festival 2011 – Housewife Surrealist
I was standing, as is my will to do, yesterday at the Virgin half-price ticket desk looking for festival bargains while tirelessly trying to avoid the endless repeats of Puppetry of the Penis, Titanic 2 and the many many productions of some second rate Sarah Kane show by undersexed teenagers. I had a few hours to kill and wanted to take my friend to see something (who despite living in Edinburgh seems averse to seeing anything onstage). I chose Bridget Christie.
An accomplished performed and comedian she brought one-hour of first-rate stand up examining faith, Catholism and her dealings with her grumpy husband and atheist.
The opening, a musical bishop set-piece, dragged and felt contrived, perhaps from not having enough faith (wrong word?) in the strength of her early material and her ability to build sufficient rappour with the audience. She need not have worried. From the moment she moved from surreal performer to traditional standup her routine became fluid, fluent and massively entertaining.
Her examination of faith, particularly the Catholic faith should be commended especially when so many other comedians make faith-bashing their area of expertise. There is a tenderness and understanding with which she handles the scepticism of her peers (and indeed husband) but also expresses the magic and safety that faith can bring. As a severely lapsed Protestant i recognised elements of her performance which struck home with truth but struck harder with comic brilliance and ingenuity.
Christie at her weakest was when she tried to break her performance with set pieces (a failed puppet and a moment of audience interaction – during which I, selected brutally from the audience, managed to be entirely unfunny creating many an eerie silence). She needn’t bother, her material is strong enough, and even when she drops in comedian in-jokes impersonating her husbands act (Stewart Lee, performing in Stand 1) the audience go with her. Well worth a watch, even at full price.