No stranger to our TV screens, nor the stage, Jessica Fostekew is a comic you can trust for some big laughs, and her new show Mettle does not disappoint. A hilariously frenetic tour through CrossFit, ageing, ULEZ and more, Fostekew comes to Soho Theatre with another excellent evening of anecdotal comedy.
Fostekew opens the show bemoaning what she labels her ‘accelerated ageing’. She names and explores the eccentricities she’s developed entering her 40s, acknowledging her apathy with fashion trends, her relationship with alcohol and the implications of living with an eight-year-old who is not afraid to point out that although your skin may be ‘soft’, it is also ‘loose’. Fostekew’s frenetic energy reaches particular heights in these initial moments, but despite the speed it seems Fostekew is totally in control. She effortlessly pulls various and quite simple personal anecdotes – for example about her partner’s inability to blink – into playful, absurd moments that draw some of the most extended laughs.
‘I love PE’ claims Fostekew, as someone who is no stranger to strengthening her muscles and joking about them on stage. She builds on the material laid down hit show Hench (now available as a comedy special on Amazon Prime) that saw Fostekew tracking her relationship to her body as she discovered weightlifting. Today, Fostekew has drifted into the slightly sinister world of CrossFit, recognising the undeniably cultish traits of the nefariously owned gym conglomerate but maintaining her love for it nonetheless. Fitness-based comedy can stray into preachy ‘love yourself’ territory, but in Fostekew’s capable hands, Mettle manages to give a fresh and funny take on what it means to exist as a woman with muscles, and finding joy in physical activity (and acknowledging when you don’t).
Another of Fostekew’s new habits now she has hit her forties comes with the admission of her ‘controversial’ views. Some of the biggest laughs come from her particularly militaristic approach to people who litter, and her ‘hard lines’ on the environment. Fostekew is no stranger to political commentary, regular fans of The Guilty Feminist Podcast which Fostekew regularly co-hosts will know. Mettle covers a particular post on Instagram she made that criticised those protesting against ULEZ that swiftly got on the wrong side of the internet and saw her receive a huge amount of trolling. Fostekew allows the audience to laugh through the serious implications of receiving death threats and the inaction of the government on air pollution that is having mortal consequences on children and portrays a frantic panic and hilarious dejection that many of us feel in the face of a climate crisis.
Audiences can relax and settle into Soho Theatre Downstairs with the knowledge that Jessica Fostekew will always provide an excellent evening of laughs. It’s smart, simple, at times meaningful, and always entertaining.
Runs until 10 February then continues to tour