Review: Laughing for a Change – The Stand, Newcastle
Women and Theatre’s Laughing for Change tour got off to a great start at The Stand in Newcastle, with some top performances.
The project aims to get people talking about mental health issues, and the night’s comedy performances are interspersed with intervals when volunteers from Time to Change chat with members of the audience, inviting us to think about how to start a conversation about mental health.
Everyone’s favourite mum, Mrs Barbara Nice (“nice as in the biscuit”) compered the show, setting the mood for a night of raucous fun with a warm fuzzy feeling of inclusiveness.
She took us through the charity shop origins of her outrageous wardrobe (her dazzling new piano accordion handbag made its stage debut on Tuesday night), indulged in the most gentle form of audience participation (with a Wispa as a reward), and eventually had the whole audience joining her clapping, singing and dancing.
Newcastle’s favourite surreal comedian Seymour Mace was first on the bill, and was the only act of the night to directly tackle the subject of his own experiences of mental illness, approaching this challenging material from his familiarly idiosyncratic perspective, closing his set with a series of his hilarious drawings, depicting unlikely pairings and incongruous situations that could only come from the mind of a comic genius.
Self-confessed “geezer bird” Karen Bayley was up next, recounting tales of her exploits on the football terraces and of life as a single woman. A great set.
Musical comedian Rob Deering closed the show with his high energy performance that took us through the musical genres from rock to reggae, and his creative beat boxing and amazing use of the loop pedal to harmonise with his own singing was nothing short of spectacular.
Laughing for a Change is a fascinating project, and is a great way to encourage people to openly talk about mental health, emphasising that we all have mental health that needs looking after.
Date of live review: 25 February 2014
Laughing for a Change continues at Brighton Komedia on 5 March, Wolverhampton Light House on 11 March, Bromsgrove Artrix on 18 March, Manchester Frog and Bucket on 19 March, and concludes at Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre on 26 March.