The signs were there from the start that the evening was ill-omened: some friends had to leave because the show listing didn’t make clear that it was in an outdoor venue; we weren’t allowed to take our drinks in; the walk to get into the theatre took the same amount of time as we gave the show before we left; and most egregiously, a bird shit on my head outside the theatre. Then the show began.
I’ve never found any show to be so bad that I’ve walked out midway through, until this one. We lasted ten minutes. I wouldn’t normally review a show that I hadn’t watched all of, but I consider this to be a public service announcement: the show was so bad that I actively want my £12 back. I got more value out of the binbag they gave us as we went in for us to sit on because the seats were wet.
Clap Back Club, the performers of the show, promised us a mix of musical theatre, comedy and cabaret to ‘discuss the impending doom that lockdown has created for the arts industry, and how it’s perpetuated the discrimination of women in the workplace’. What they actually gave us was cringe ‘Karen’ middle management jokes, outdated ‘baking banana bread’ references, and out-of-tune renditions of badly-rewritten pop songs into microphones that were either turned off or just not loud enough.
In an odd way, it reminded me of right-wing grievance “comedy”: too busy trying to cram all the references to things that wound them up to remember to actually tell jokes; or the “comedy” of Reddit memes, where the surprise or toying with expectations from which humour arises are eschewed for the cheap, easy sensation of Getting The Ref. That said, both are popular, and the formula, applied to a woker audience, worked too—they hooted like the rubes they were at all of the words they’d heard before. Say what you like about the performers: they have correctly adjudged the quality of their viewers.
This has put every other show I’ve seen into a new perspective, and I think we owe the subjects of all this season’s previous bad reviews all thoroughgoing apologies. Let me be clear: I would happily sit through 24 hours of WIP shows or sub-TED-talk blather to wipe out the 10 minutes I spent in this show. I’m not including a ticket link because if you actually want to go and see it after reading this, you’re beyond help.