Desiree Burch: Desiree's Coming Early! (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Desiree Burch: Desiree's Coming Early!

credit: Idil Sukan

Absorbing tale of love, life and racial tropes

It's 2018. Desiree Burch has just got out of a long-term relationship and she's feeling a serious absence of dick. What else is there to do but attend Burning Man? In her new show, London-based American stand-up Burch weaves an almost mystical tale of her adventure in the Nevada desert with her best friend Dave and thousands of half-naked revellers, all the while on a mega acid trip.

It's an absorbing and surreal journey, but if you've seen Burch before, you'll know that the story she tells is never the whole picture. Instead, it's just a part of a multi-layered, complex show that takes on everything from eugenics and institutional discrimination to #MeToo and Michael Jackson. And naked boobs, of course; after all, it is Burning Man. Put all together, it makes for a moving and hilarious hour on politics, sexuality and pop culture. Through her previous stand-up (Unf*ckable) and theatre (Tar Baby), Burch has time and again proved herself to be a mesmerising, energetic performer, and this year once more she has the audience lapping up every single word.

She is acutely aware of her role as an entertainer too, and the problematic nature of being a black stand-up performing to mostly white audiences every day. For instance, there's a brilliant take-down of the 'magical negro' trope (the black character that exists purely to further the main white character's arc) in The Green Mile. It has tonight's sold-out crowd in stitches, but as the image comes up again and again, it takes on a greater poignancy.

Ultimately, Desiree's Coming Early! is a great story, one that's big on laughs but leaves you questioning the role you play in her narrative too.

Heroes @ The Hive, until 25 Aug (not 13, 20), 7.40pm, £10 (£7) or donations at the venue.

Desiree Burch: Desiree's Coming Early

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