BRIGHTON FRINGE: Leanne Shorley-Beautiful Things: Caxton Arms

From: Leanne Shorey

Reviewer: Simon Topping

This one-woman show about intimacy and love, with an order of sex toys, brings joy and laughter to an enthusiastic audience at the Caxton Arms.

Leanne Shoreley is not sure about love. What is love and why is it tricky? Modern dating is difficult, fraught with pitfalls and disappointments. Her own experiences with love and relationships have often been difficult. In this engaging and fun hour Shoreley examines his own life around these questions in a quirky, brutally honest, yet endearing way.

Shoreley is an imposing presence on stage; both confident and friendly. Her shotgun delivery is authentically her, both onstage and offstage, and politely asks to be heard.

First, she talks about her “love” for her new wand sex toy and the emotional and physical warmth it provides. She has become obsessed and her friends are worried. The wand doesn’t drop it, scold it, gaslight it, or deny it. It’s a simple relationship, which brings him joy.

“What else can give you joy?” She questions the audience. What follows is several minutes of enjoyable crowd interaction, culminating in a clownish play with a balloon dog. It’s fabulously bonkers and received with howls of laughter.

The well-rehearsed script is, at times, let out like a stream of consciousness, in an improvised way. It’s a clever deception, well executed.

To be a poet you expect Shoreley be a good blacksmith and she is. His poetry is worked naturalistically into the play so that the prose and poetry blend seamlessly as the action continues. There’s a lot of adult material shared here by the artist, mostly the masturbation reference, which the crowd is screaming at, partly in horror, maybe partly in appreciation and mostly because of how amusingly it is described and delivered.

The performer may be at her best when she clowns around, dances past Coronation Street and the pop star, Adam Rickettedoing yoga or wrestling with her balloon dog as she explores the complexities of her world and the unfortunate and embarrassing episodes in her life, which often involve bodily fluids

Nice Things is an inventive comedy. There’s a very fun poetry scene with the “Bop It Extreme” children’s electronic toy that provides the soundtrack, as well as Shoreley plays the game expertly, the clowning and crowd interaction are expertly done and the narrative expanding around Rickette is cleverly and amusingly flipped as the show goes on.

Above all, it’s a funny, heartwarming comedy that keeps the room laughing throughout and leaving them wanting more.

Exams on May 15. Runs until May 16.

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