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Homotopia Festival: The Rise and Fall of the Hamburger Queen – Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Writer: Paul Burke and Ashleigh Owen
Director: Paul Burke
Review: Tate James

If its quirky title doesn’t grab your attention then the self-professed triple-threat talent of its leading lady will. The Rise and Fall of the Hamburger Queen is a highly amusing romp, inspired (very) loosely by true events, chronicling the life of aspiring dancer and plus-size personality Ashleigh. The daughter of a stern and matronly mother and a fabulously gay father, we hear how Ashleigh finds her true calling to unleash the dancer within and follow in her father’s footsteps, by seeking the “chance to dance”.

tell-us-block_editedThrough a series of extended monologues, hysterical comedy dance routines, well-placed original songs and constant reassurances to the audience of just how talented she is, Ashleigh Owen (as the caricature of herself) delivers a Whopper of a performance. It is no mean feat to maintain momentum through such a high-energy two-act one-woman show, and Owen rises to the challenge as the Big Mac with her strong characterisation and acting abilities shining through.

While her cameo appearance as her flamboyant father is well received, and the dastardly Super Agent Beverley’s Snapchat is bound to bag a few more followers, it is her portrayal of Ashleigh’s mother that provides the most entertaining scenes, an unnervingly accurate representation of the typical stoic dinner lady personality we all remember. But the character of Ashleigh definitely steals the show and rightly so, savouring every moment of starring in her one-woman show, and determined to hide her poor stagehand in the wings for fear of it becoming a two-woman show.

The hilarious script by Owen and Paul Burke is, in the most part, fast-paced and energetic and the use of audio-visual elements with projection and voiceover adds a layer of accomplishment onto a piece that has grown and developed over the last few years. The attention to detail in the characters’ parody personality traits combined with the witty choreography by Andrew McKay, all play to Owen’s obvious strength for physical comedy making this a wonderful showcase for a talented comedic actress.

A first night audience left the show feeling thoroughly entertained, having giggled and belly laughed throughout. To quote the leading lady after an incident involving a pirouette and a pizza slice: “There was cheese and laughter everywhere I looked”

Runs until 5 November 2016 | Image: Contributed


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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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