In a small, bare room in Pleasance Courtyard, armed with a projector screen and a pack of makeup wipes, Angela Barnes is ready to change your view on beauty standards - and make you laugh at the same time.
Come As You Are is a tale of self-acceptance: just as no one can make you stay at a party if you don’t want to, no one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission.
Barnes’ set is incredibly well structured, beginning with an introductory section that covers friendly and familiar material. From her reputation as the messy flatmate to her new partner, topics are kept light and laughable with some cracking one liners along the way. Barnes maintains a confident and assertive manner, as if settling in for a good catch up with friends; she is an instantly likeable presence, connecting easily with her audience, and is ready to laugh at herself just as much as anything else. This all lays the foundation for a discussion about her sense of self, and how this has been shaped by others throughout her life.
This show went from good to great in the second half, engaging with the very real issue of pressure from the media to conform to acceptable beauty standards on a day-to-day basis. Barnes exposes the very working of those “is it just me?” thoughts that we all (or at least the two of us) have had at some point or other.
Using an encounter with online trolls through an article she wrote in 2013 on her appearance, Barnes addresses the narrow tightrope of perceived ‘attractiveness’, the labels that come with it and the superficiality of using photoshopped images as supposedly natural portraits. It was really something to witness how aggressively some anonymous commenters had judged her based solely on this single article, despite knowing next to nothing about her - but then this is the exact judgement that we all make on every stranger, every day.
Ultimately, Come As You Are is a tale of self-acceptance: just as no one can make you stay at a party if you don’t want to, no one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission. As well as being incredibly funny, this show is both thought-provoking and cathartic – certainly not to be missed.