Harriet Kemsley: The Girl on the Wrong Train
- Claire Sawers
- 16 August 2016
This article is from 2016
Desperately tame show about impending nuptials
Harriet Kemsley opens with news that she got engaged on Christmas Eve. It's a big relief, she beams, as she'd been unhappily single for a long time, and is now very much in love. It's fantastic news for Harriet – only a mean-spirited, misogamist monster would dispute that, surely – but it's also not a thrilling premise for a megalols hour of stand-up (isn't that what Facebook is for?).
This story doesn't arc towards some hellish, cruel, unexpected obstacle we desperately want her to overcome, or even angsty suspicion that, as the title teases, maybe this isn't something she wants. No, the announcement is a floodgate-opener for pedestrian material about attending wedding fairs with her mum, choosing the dress, doing 'language of love' quizzes with her fiancé, the exorbitant costs and so on.
Maybe that works on a Pinterest board, but for comedy purposes it's too limited, sprinkled with views on femininity apparently delivered by telegram from the 1940s: women without makeup look homeless, good housewives keep spotless homes and so on. Kemsley is definitely grappling with how she fits into longstanding marriage conventions and heteronormative gender roles, and that was where it was about to get interesting. But whenever more thought-provoking sections crop up, the safer, smug social media filler stuff returns instead.
Just the Tonic at the Caves, until 28 Aug, 9.25pm, £5 (£3) or Pay What You Want.