There’s plenty for girls to worry about these days – from tattoos to eating disorders to abusive relationships – and Tanya Holt, a mother herself, deals with the difficulties brilliantly in this witty and important show. What advice would you give your younger self? What would you want your daughter to know? In a series of sparkling and razor sharp songs, Holt delivers some truths and some warnings with humour and honesty.
At the beginning of the show, with a twinkle in her eye, she announces that over the next 55 minutes, it’s going to get a little dark. Some of the songs are very funny – the Tattoo Song, for example, is a hilarious caution against doing something you’ll regret - but deals with very real pressures. We meet a colourful array of characters like label-obsessed Chanel and Cherry the Amazing YoYo girl, whose tales, despite the jaunty tunes and snappy rhymes that accompany them, have something serious to tell us. Towards the end of the show, important issues are given the gravity they merit; sexual harassment and domestic abuse are dealt with sensitively and insightfully.
The show is dark without ever being heavy. From the moment Holt strides in, in her brightly coloured outfit, winning smile in place, it is clear she will make us laugh as well as make us think. The songs are beautifully sung, and the accompaniment and harmonies of musical director Suzie Shrubb are spot on. Holt plays her audience very well, and is cheeky and charming when she talks to the audience. She is constantly navigating the balance of comedy and truth that is the shows success.
With the help of a slick powerpoint, a children’s suitcase of props and armed with a strong voice and some great songs, Tanya and Suzie deliver a warm, clever and layered show. A playful look at the joys and the trials of growing up and facing the world, Cautionary Tales is definitely a worthwhile hour.