Josie Long: Cara Josephine (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

Josie Long’s handcrafted blend of upbeat whimsy, curiosities and earnestness has attracted a lot of ardent fans and netted her the Best Newcomer award in 2006. Detractors dismissed her as too fluffy and then, when she started to take on more political material, felt it either didn’t go far enough or failed to mesh with her previous stylings. At the ripe old age of 32 she’s changing tack again. Eschewing twee (apart from the charming photocopied zines she hands out as programmes) and promising no politics, she offers up the curiosities that lie in her heart with a personal show about romantic and familial love.

It’s a cliché, but a particularly bad break-up challenges her positivity and spurs her to self-investigation. A look back on previous relationships, a bit of childhood analysis and her very first attempt at discussing sex on stage are presented in her signature style (leftist, book-loving optimism) and, although she promised no politics, that was never going to happen. She still detours into quirky flights of fancy, stretching them right to the edge of usefulness before folding back into a show that feels spontaneous despite being deftly constructed.

Long’s style is sneaky. She comes across as fresh-faced, searching and at times vulnerable, but knows her mind full well. This self-assuredness grants her total command of the stage and allows her to win over each and every member of the audience until they are following her devotedly through confessions and imagined scenarios alike. It’s gratifying to watch her play with this as she leads the rapt crowd through a series of responses (gasps, sighs, awws) before good-naturedly faking them out.

Despite tackling heartbreak and depression, Josie Long’s universe remains a brighter world, unequivocally delightful and to which all are invited to visit. In a flawless hour, her comedy’s latest evolution perfects those previous directions and conquers the new territory of her heart with enough verve to defy the detractors.

The Stand, 558 7272, until 24 Aug, 8.40pm, £11 (£8).

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

Long's latest is a typically optimistic look at both love and being 'as outdoorsy as a bear' (which is pretty darn outdoorsy).