Writers: The Cast
Director: Henrietta Ashworth
Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
Strangely over at the Leicester Square Theatre you can see four women on stage at the same time doing comedy, that’s right, four, when everyone knows the limit is one – that’s why we have quotas so you don’t have to have more than that. But the new sketch show Dude Looks Like a Lady has four whole women doing comedy sketches in the same show at the same time; it’s bold, it’s audacious, it’s probably not even legal.
Recently it has seemed like the sketch show had gone for good, few appear on TV and stand-up has become the rock and roll of comedy, but Leanne Davis, Julie Catton, Jessica Ashworth and Amanda Stauffer have changed all that. In a fast paced one hour show they cram 15-20 short skits of varying lengths and types. There’s observational humour from familiar everyday situations, slightly surreal scenarios, quirky monologues and flat-out brilliant male impersonation.
Some of the best ideas poke fun at stereotypical female behaviours including a group of four friends who live out an entire relationship with a boyfriend, including the wedding, before they’ve even met him, and continuing on the wedding theme, a bride whose distaste for awkward situations has found her at the alter, the story of which comes tumbling out at the reception. Best of all, however, is a sketch set in a pub as two middle-aged men jeer at any woman who walks by while contemplating the trouble with “women these days”. It’s brilliantly written and performed perfectly skewering that type of sexist male banter that thinks women should be grateful to be allowed to have a career and babies.
Dude Looks Like a Lady are actually four very good actresses who convincingly create multiple situations and characters with almost no props, while largely delivering a good punchline and making it seem fresh. A few things don’t quite come off in the middle including a bizarre fitting room sketch that maintains its one-note joke for far too long – a problem shared by a phone reception piece set on a train – but there is considerable variety here in a very short run time so another laugh is only minutes away.
The set is nicely paced and the minimalist approach allows things to move quickly which keeps the audience with them throughout, and there’s a nice choice of interlinking music between scenes covering everyone from Shania Twain to The Cure, and not forgetting Aerosmith whose song gave this group its name. They only formed last summer and by the time they return from the Edinburgh Festival this will have matured into a very fine show. It’s a very short run at the Leicester Square Theatre but if you can throw off your social conditioning and cope with seeing four funny women at the same time, then you won’t be disappointed.
Runs until18 February 2016 | Image: Contributed