FestivalsReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Joanna Neary: Wife on Earth: with Dyball and Kerr – Komedia Studio

Reviewer: Simon Topping

The first half of the evening kicks off with an address from Joanna Neary’s repressed housewife alter ego, Celia. Modelled on actress Celia Johnson’s character in Brief Encounter, Neary captures the clipped modulated voice and subjugated manner of a put-upon spouse incredibly well.

There is a sprinkling of Alan Bennett-style tragedy, as the audience learns from Celia’s guide to marriage and relationships, that her misogynistic husband, Fred, really is an inconsiderate rotter. While singing a song about the joys and pitfalls of having a long term partner, Celia’s commentary is tinged with regret, having preferred Fred’s brother Frank, who now lives as an architect in the French Riviera.

Played with perfect precision, Neary, takes us through a list of other characters contributing to Celia’s presentation, all of them have a unique perspective on love; Christine wishes she had married the local chip shop owner, pop singer Bjork just wants to be loved and Jo’s welsh dead nanna is besotted by Shankin’ Stevens.

Each personality in Neary’s show is finely crafted; Bjork gets the most laughs in the room but each persona swells the room with laughter. There is usually only a simple change in costume, often just a wig, but the transformation in Neary is complete. She is an excellent comedy actor and deserves much more TV time.

The comedy songs are wonderfully bonkers and a good source of mirth. The Kate Bush-esque tune about the “bits and bobs” drawer in the kitchen is particularly funny and, as the first half comes to a close, the crowd are in good spirits from a very entertaining 45 minutes.

The second half is dedicated to the wild comedy stylings of Dyball and Kerr. The duo bring us a selection of misfits, authoritarians and Imagineers in an enjoyable conclusion to the evening.

The first pair to hit the stage are a gay couple who support the arts but end up at Monster Truck rallies and the football by mistake, but love the experiences just as much as the latest contemporary art gallery opening; it’s a nice conceit, with plenty of giggles attached.

Other characters include two California Facebook executives, a German experimental electronic outfit called Disorganisation and a squabbling folk duo, which includes Neary. While not all characters hit the mark, most are funny and Dyball and Kerr are very engaging to watch. Dyball does angry comedy very well and Kerr reactions to the mayhem are perfectly timed.

Finishing with a song from all three, Dyball, Kerr and Neary prove to be a winning and very funny combination, well worth a watch in an entertaining evening of high-quality character comedy shenanigans.

Reviewed on 2 June 2019 | Image: Contributed

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