It promised to be a fun show. Pauline Curtin’s stand up at the Phoenix is based on her experiences in therapy and trying a certain holistic holiday in Greece to improve herself and find inner peace. Curtin seems to have come to the conclusion that self-improvement is a huge deceptive industry and accepts her traits as an anti-establishment, wine-loving woman with a high sex drive.
There was an all-female audience, most of whom had taken their cue from Curtin and were sipping chilled white wine. Curtin’s introduction included a very funny moment where she confessed to having been surreptitiously flashed at by a kilt-wearing audience member and followed it with the inevitable yet juicy knob jokes. So far so good but the rambling lead into her character sketches lacked proper scripting and there were too many ‘ums’. During her first character (the misery queen) at the Greek holiday, a couple of audience members gave up and left. A few more were lost later, sometime during the ‘loopy blond’, the ‘lapsing nun’ and the ‘holistic healer’.
Differences between characters were marked with an assortment of black cardigans and a wrap but mostly the accents were a variation on Curtin’s own Irish accent. The whole set was delivered in screechy tones without energy or conviction and the characterisations themselves were bitter and without warmth or comic irony. An audience, particularly a female one, cannot be expected to feel sympathy for a character if it is presented in this way, as there was nothing of themselves to recognise and laugh at. The end of the show was so abrupt it seemed that Curtin had lost patience with the audience.
Forget Therapy would benefit from the input of an experienced performer/director to help Curtin shape what is potentially a good idea and turn this series of character assassinations into something more darkly comic and meaningful.