Writer and performer: Beth Vyse
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts
What do breast cancer and Deal or No Deal have in common? Beth Vyse is here to explain all in her solo show, As Funny As Cancer. On the way in the audience is greeted by a loud American woman in a large blond wig, each person welcomed and given a ping pong ball. It is surreal until a giant breast appears, then it is just a dream. Vyse’s dream.
As Funny As Cancer sees Vyse take to the stage to share the journey of her life. From Stoke-on-Trent to singing in South Africa for Nelson Mandela and moving to London to pursue acting. A hilarious tale involving two of every animal, Michael Jackson and a rather odd encounter with Dr Who. But then comes the gear shift, one that we know is coming, lurking just behind the silly. At age 28 Vyse was diagnosed with breast cancer. The show chronicles her journey through treatment and the effect it’s had on her and the people around her.
Vyse’s surreal comedy perfectly compliments what is a heart wrenching personal account of an often deadly disease. It is horribly sad and hilariously funny, there are moments of tears and moments that involve giant inflatable penises. It’s a blur of hope and ridiculousness and disbelief, a lot like life. Although the style is rough, with props strewn around it has a DIY feel to it, adding to the feeling that anything could happen. Simple lighting and staging allow Vyse to solely hold the audience’s attention for the majority of the show, this adds to the personal
Despite being a one-person show, there is often more than one character on stage at any time, thanks to those dreaded two words: audience participation. Vyse completely sets the audience at ease, though, and creates a safe environment for them to get up on stage and put on some questionable masks –and some questionable accents for that matter.
An extremely engaging and relatable performer Vyse takes us on her journey, through laughter and tears. It’s warm, ferocious and funnier than you could imagine cancer could be.
Reviewed on 6 November 2016 then tour continues | Image: Contributed