Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Lucy Porter is so ‘conflict-adverse’ that she avoids arguments even when she is in the right. But a parenting book entitled Choose Your Battles not only nudges Lucy towards changing her attitude it also inspires her new show.
Lucy Porter is her own Support Act and the first 45 minutes or so of her show do not do justice to the main event being largely a lengthy introduction to the themes that will be explored in the second half. It does, however, serve to highlight the effectiveness of Porter’s chatty, laid-back style. Porter presents herself as someone who is not so much jaded as simply satisfied and mellow claiming that performing is just an excuse to get out of the house rather than a vocation. It is an approach that explains how someone who strives to avoid conflict can end up in trouble in our increasingly intolerant culture as Porter seems incapable of taking complaints seriously and her efforts to achieve reconciliation often make things worse.
Porter’s dry, intimate style of delivery is deceptive. She does not build to a punch-line but often seems to have taken an anecdote to a gentle, amusing conclusion only to return and, absentmindedly, deliver the punch-line as an afterthought.
Choose Your Battles is, in some ways, comedy as therapy. Porter takes the opportunity to describe how she is frustrated by her timidity to the extent she acknowledges that first Act occasionally feels like little more than just moaning about her husband. There is a melancholy undertone as Porter describes her relationship with her late mother and how it influenced her shy approach to life. True to form, however, Porter manages to bring the anecdote to a comic, rather than a gloomy, conclusion.
As Porter tends to shy away from punch-lines the main part of the show is structured like a lecture as she describes the many ways in which she copes with her timidity. Some of these methods are eccentric to say the least. When confronted by an opinion with which she violently disagrees Porter is incapable of raising an objection so responds by taking some form of positive action to offset the negative stimulus. This approach eventually explains why she is performing in a semi-circle of crisp packets.
The tone of Choose Your Battles is not only warm it is unthreatening. Porter goes to extremes to avoid any offence and chooses to read out an expletive-ridden abusive message only after it has been cleaned up and censored by spellcheck. Patrons need not fear being harassed or mocked as Porter is affectionate to the occasional audience member she persuades to take part in the show.
Choose Your Battles is warm, insightful comedy and perfect for a Sunday night.
Reviewed on 15 April 2018 | Image: Contributed