Angela Barnes: Fortitude

After sold out Fringe shows in 2014 and 2015, Angela Barnes is back with a new routine that is, at times, remarkably and worryingly prescient. Especially given the developments in the relationship between the US and North Korea in the last week.

The leap from nuclear bunkers to the perimenopause may seem like a great one but the delivery and pace of the performance helps Barnes to do so with ease.

The show details a number of themes, one in-particular, is turning 40 and seemingly doing so without the usual clichés about midlife crises that come with that landmark. We get to hear self-confessed history buff Barnes' love of decommissioned nuclear bunkers, and the time that she spent in one as a present from her boyfriend celebrating her 40th.

The mood of the birthday was tempered slightly by the news that Donald Trump was elected as president during their stay, which inevitably leads to a volley of abuse aimed at the leader of the free world. All well-deserved and lapped up by the audience.

No doubt, when she put this show together two months ago, the two props of Raymond Briggs apocalyptic tale of a nuclear attack When the Wind Blows and the government information booklet Protect and Survive, were great comic devices to prompt her wanders down memory lane. Barnes apparently paid £60 on eBay to secure a copy of the pamphlet for the show. That may turn out to be a great investment on many levels.

This part of the show feels almost educational and is very much on-point. There is a great deal of nostalgia throughout the set, no doubt aimed at the majority of the audience who are the same age (or older) than Barnes.

Another one of the other realisations of turning 40 for Barnes, is not knowing the difference between good and bad poetry. This is one of the two things in her anti-bucket list. An ex-boyfriend who claimed to be a poet, but in reality worked for the council, liked the poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. The recollection of this leads to a deft call back later on in the set when she sums her own outlook on life.

She bemoans that having reached 40 without children, the fact that people have no qualms asking her why that's the case. There is a poignancy in this part of the set when it is revealed that Barnes, who has no desire to have children, recently found out with a trip to the doctors that she would not be able to have them, even if she had wanted to.

The leap from nuclear bunkers to the perimenopause may seem like a great one but the delivery and pace of the performance helps Barnes to do so with ease. There are a number of themes that the set addresses but Barnes manages to pull the threads together well and the show works as a concept. 

Reviews by Paul Clark

Assembly George Square Theatre

Andrew Maxwell: Showtime

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Angela Barnes: Fortitude

★★★★
New Town Theatre

Dickless

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6

Phill Jupitus: Achtung!/Acting!

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus Up the Stand

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Lucy Porter: Choose Your Battles

★★★★

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The Blurb

Following sell-out Fringe shows in 2014 and 2015, Angela Barnes (Mock The Week, Alan Davies' As Yet Untitled, Russell Howard's Good News, BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, host of Newsjack on BBC Radio 4 Extra) is back with her brand new 2017 show, Fortitude. Stand-up and stories from a reluctant 40 year old with some stuff to say. 'Feels like a sure-fire bet the instant she utters her opening lines' (Scotsman). 'She's just a gloriously down-to-earth, straight talking and extremely funny comic' (Guardian). 'The pace is fast, the material strong and the delivery perfect' (Chortle.co.uk).

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