Beth Vyse: Get Up With Hands!

Hands down, Get Up With Hands! is the funniest thing I've seen at the Fringe this year. Staunchly in the vein of funnywoman Karen Taylor's Valerie D'Enton, Vyse's show tells the tale of Olive Hands - a kind of leopard print-clad Corrie-kitsch Cruella de Vil - and her mad scramble to save her ITV9 daytime telly show. It's a campy curveball of surreal comic delight.

The masterstroke of Get Up With Hands! is that even when the show goes wrong it only adds to the hilarity.

From the off, audience interaction is kept central to comic effect. The dirty-glam Hands shrieks at her audience; lies herself across their laps in the throes of prophetic visions and forces them to stand and sing her theme song like a crazed daytime-TV dictator. Indeed, everything is knocked up a notch as audience members are wrested up to the stage to be dressed up, put down, interviewed and ordered to participate in gross gameshows. Be warned, this show is not for the faint-hearted; some of the involvement calls for bigger balls that those Hands shows off as she impersonates a crooning blind chinese boy on live TV.

The masterstroke of Get Up With Hands! is that even when the show goes wrong it only adds to the hilarity. Given that the premise of this show is a loser's frantic last-ditch punt at the big time, Vyse's occasional corpsing and the odd collapsing bit of set simply bring an element of complicity to this plunge into chaos. Vyse very cleverly brings the same failsafe effect to the jokes themselves: Even as a bit about Olive's demented, Robert Lindsay-loving mother feels a bit off the pace of the rest of the show, and the aforementioned imitation of the chinese child feels a little awkward and overlong , these issues only underscore a gut-bustingly funny finale. Olive's horrified realisation of her own insanity becomes side-splitting in light of the audience’s earlier nervousness. Furthermore, an emotional outburst at the endpoint of Hands' madness following these more awkward instances of the show becomes worryingly believable: I genuinely thought that Vyse was having a breakdown at one point, and the tension I felt only furthered my later laughter.

Vyse's show is a wonderful melange of surreal and character comedy styles that basks in the campy fun of daytime telly. I can do nothing but recommend it. Even if Olive Hands has hit hard times with her ratings, this show deserves viewers by the bucketload. 

Reviews by Jack Powell

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The Blurb

Beth Vyse’s creation Olive Hands presents her number two in the morning, daytime show. She’s just a working class girl living the dream. That was until ITV9 went bust! Come and witness her trying to remain on your screens. Expect the surreal, sublime and completely ridiculous from critically acclaimed Vyse. 'Her style has a touch of The Mighty Boosh. Stunningly Lewd' **** (ThreeWeeks). 'This show has cult written all over it… a fine calling card for a formidable comedy actress' ( 'Vyse is marvellous, imperious and ambitious' (Times).