Writers: Joanna Eden and Leigh McDonald
Reviewer: John Kennedy
The show’s hedonistic title riffs on an obtuse nod to novel/film The Unbearable Lightness Of Being. while, disappointingly, the sex isn’t anywhere as near explicit, it at least manages to dodge the car crash – mostly. Think Victoria Wood and French & Saunders’ wine-soaked quality-time mothers together with Stephen Sondheim existentialism.
Mac & Eden are shouty, sweary, sometimes scary, brazen sisters without mercy, blowing wind to caution. No po-faced shrinking violets of girlie apologia here. Mostly. Keyboard/vocals, fellow raconteur composer, Joanna Eden, with co-conspirator, Leigh McDonald, blitz through sixty minutes of irreverent vaudeville ennui ephemera. Their schlock middle-class, Ikea-centric piped-musak-melodies are near to ear-bleedingly banal, whereas the lyrics and timing are sulphurically pungent and sharp.
Power-ballad parody and cabaret carnage song and comic rants explode with slash and burn, sometimes near stomach-churning, self-mocking irony. Balls breaking burlesque for the brave of heart – the audience is captivated. Like their rôle models, these shameless sirens only take prisoners to eat them alive. Or, with audience stooge, poor Danny, an alleged one-night stand, behind a skip shag frenzy.
Winners of last year’s Brighton Fringe & Cabaret Award, their ‘Fabulous & Filthy’ reputation precedes them on this Tunnel-Of-Love/Hate joyride. A medley of slush puppy-eyed buttock cringing, arias and duets wring out cliché after cliché with merciless mangled aplomb. Obsessional body-image angst and self-parodying loathing by proxy are constant conceits – that mutual itch to bitch festers like the dose one of them possibly caught from Boris the Berlin baggage handler with the Teutonic sized wanger.
A confessional intimacy from McDonald reveals she suffered from acute OCD as a child. It segues into a faux-operatic fugue, I am Mental. If the former is true it still lends an uneasy, ambivalent authenticity to a potent subject. But maybe laughter is the best medicine, albeit a holistic or snake oil cure-all. Nevertheless, conviction here seems wanting, an under-dose of sincerity erring close to comedy-lite contrivance.
Joanna Eden’s opus minor dedicated to her mission to be the messianic Mumsnet-perfect first-time mother is wickedly wry. Ideals are sacred until the five-year-old, screaming incubus in the back seat, can only be sedated with bribes promised by the drive-in ‘Golden Arches’ of McFast-food reality. A thoroughly engaging, pith-taking montage of self-mockery and astute observation where girls, it seems, just want to have fun. But there’s a heavy price to pay. They long to reclaim their innocence and independence but just can’t seem to find the receipt.
Why Can’t A Man Be More Like A Woman? carries the caveat that an enormous dong would be an acceptable compromise. Raucous, part-revelatory, certainly ego-depilatory excessive in all intimate areas, this show reaffirms the unlikeliness that any of us can be bearable all of the time. But an hour or so with these malevolent minxes can be highly therapeutic – at least some of the time. Perhaps the bearable necessities of Life will come to them.
Reviewed on 1 July 2017 and on tour | Image: Contributed