Writer: Chloe Ward
Reviewer: Jonathan Grant
Gap Year is Chloe Ward’s first solo show. Combining video recordings with a smattering of live music, her repartee takes us through a gap year she is keen to forget. A year that had been spent un-glamorously on these shores, in contrast to the world-beating backpacking trips typically undertaken by her peers.
Her material is based upon her experiences and encounters during that year and Ward’s skills as a performer and mimic allow her not only to adopt the persona of her younger self, but frequently also to play “the other half” of a conversation, with an instant switch of voice or headgear signalling a swap of character as a dialog is played out.
Her stage talent is evident. Confident and poised, her presence commanded the attention of her audience. The content however lacked such quality. While nearly all of her observations of the world around her were accurate, some showed a distinct lack of originality – the recollections of the Sea Life Centre employee strongly echoed an emulation of Ricky Gervais, and her portrayal, early on in her act, of a chef with impaired hearing, came across as exploitative and insulting. While Ward may well argue that those lines were written and performed with sensitivity, it nonetheless crossed a line of acceptability, and she would do well to edit that part of her routine going forward. Disabilities are never to be laughed at cheaply.
Late in the act Ward plays several instruments in turn, each of which as she plays it, is then taken up by a pre-recording of the actress in a multi media video presentation, culminating in a short four-piece number, all played by her alone. It would however have enhanced the professionalism of her act if the projections had been beamed onto a proper screen, rather than a large white sheet, the creased state of which lent an undeserved air of amateurism to her act.
Ward shows promise, and it may well be with more attention paid to the originality and humour of her content rather than her overly-gimmicked delivery, that she can go on to be an excellent comedienne of the future.