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Grainne Maguire - We Need to Talk About Bonnets
Published on Sunday, 22 August 2010

4.5 stars

Just The Tonic at the Caves (venue website)
Until 29 Aug, 10:15pm (11:15pm)
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

About two-thirds of the way through this show, which tells a personal contemporary story with lots of in-jokes about 19th century literature, Grainne Maguire makes a shocking personal revelation which leaves the audience shuffling uncomfortably.  This is a comedy show, and there are some things you can't really laugh at.

Some people might find this aspect of the show tricky.  I actually loved it.  I'm a fan of comedy that makes people uncomfortable, and anyway, it led to some great Thomas Hardy jokes.  (Note to stand up comedy in general: more Thomas Hardy jokes please!)

If you like Jane Austen, The Brontes, Little Women et al, you'll love this show.  You'll also envy the bonnet Maguire's mum made her out of a lampshade, and want to punch the air at the fabulously over-the-top conclusion to her parlour play.  And, yes, I do want to know exactly what Lydia Bennet doing stand-up would be like.  (Answer: It's brilliant.)

There are some great topical gags too.  My favourite's the one where Maguire draws a parallel between the traditional dilemma of the 19th Century heroine - should she pick the smarmy, amoral, richer-than-God guy or the good, solid, emotionally distant guy - to the choice Nick Clegg had to make earlier in the year.  And if 19th Century literature is not your thing, because, say, you were born male, well, I don't know...  This is still a very funny show.  And you'll learn something too.

It's hard to say how a show as frilly as this will fare in the ballsy, boyish world of stand-up.  But there's an audience for this out there, and I'm delighted that Maguire has braved the storming moors and the threat of consumption to bring it to us.  I'm recommending it to my mum.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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