Grainne Maguire - We Need to Talk About Bonnets

There are about ten people in a dank attic room for what Grainne Maguire repeatedly describes as a 'late night bonnet show', meaning that for the majority of her set she doesn't even bother to use a microphone. This intimacy helps rather than hinders her, allowing her bond with the small crowd through her immense likeability and thereby succeed where some of her weaker material on its own might fail.This is an almost didactically coherent concept show about the differences between modern life and the romantic visions of 19th century novels (you know, the ones in which everyone is really unhappy and then dies) and its best moments are its period jokes – Maguire's pun, not mine. Two set-pieces, a stand-up routine from Lydia Bennett and a 'mini-melodrama' script performed by Maguire with a member of the audience are all acutely observed and brilliantly delivered, Maguire's infectious enthusiasm for her subject shining through as she inhabits all of its inherent ridiculousness and continuing charm.It's evident that she knows and loves her material, and this conviction alone helps propel the show forward, even allowing her to make light of some particularly tragic personal content. I haven't read any Jane Austen books, and while I didn't feel completely left out (I laughed at the Hardy jokes instead) if the thought of milkmaids running over windswept moors pursued by swarthy men in jodhpurs turns your stomach then this probably isn't the show for you. There some lines that feel like padding and the natural nerviness of Maguire's voice sometimes undermines her delivery, but she's an instantly charming performer and, unlike one of the wronged but pure-hearted maidens in the novels with which she identifies so strongly, that winning enthusiasm is enough to see her through this interesting and focused set.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Is living like you're in an Emily Bronte book always a bad thing, even if you work in an office, are a bit of a pisshead and don't own a bonnet?