Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Raging Laughter with Julia Morris

Julia Morris - Lift and Separate
Canberra Theatre Centre

Julia Morris is a woman of a certain age - those are her words; not mine. Apparently this calls for age-appropriate clothing, botox and homicidal hormonal rages. She plays to (and with) her audience, which is largely female, and shares knowing laughs with them on a range of tailored topics.

Beginning with an exhortation to the audience not to use their phones, she helpfully poses in a variety of attitudes which she says we may recognise throughout the show. These involve delightfully undignified positions which she allows the audience to capture with their mobile cameras before turning off the devices - this fun but no-nonsense approach sets the tone for the evening.

Hindered and abetted by a slide show, she highlights images of her daily tribulations in retail outlets as she tries on ridiculous clothing and claims to be haunted by inverse body dysmorphia - she always thinks she looks gorgeous. Because of her willingness to mock herself and her self-deprecating charm, she quickly wins over her audience and they soon join in the laughter and the wry smiles.

We all know what it's like when a minor incident irritates us beyond all proportion and we get angry at the tiniest misdemeanour. But we probably can't articulate this feeling as amusingly as she does. While we may wince for the hospitality staff who bear the brunt of her outbursts over the time one can serve eggs or the rationing of towels in a hotel, we are more entertained than empathetic.

Julia explains her heavy workload may have added to her inner ball of fury. As she worried that her market value would wane with her advancing years, she seized every opportunity to increase her profile. This leads to highly intimate anecdotes of her time in African jungles filming I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, but it also frames a very real issue.

Women everywhere struggle with the personality changes and hormone imbalances that accompany ageing and menopause. Many of them suffer in silence, but not Julia; Julia turns it into comedy material. This is brave and brilliant. I loved it.