Ingrid Oliver delivers an hour of speeches in
The hour speeds by with the giddy glee of a toboggan on a particularly steep slope
There’s a very elegant joke about Brexit which – now that Oliver has done it, seems obvious. That, and a passage from a ‘woke’ valley girl, and a student council leader discussing safe spaces and the like, make Speech! feel like a very vital hour, only possible in this year: it will certainly feel relevant to anyone who woke up on the morning of the election (either one) with a dull sense of disbelief and horror.
We’re presented with a version of Katie Hopkins who’s presumably taken charm lessons from Julia Hartley-Brewer, and a workshop leader who doubtless will send shivers of horrified recognition down many spines. There’s a great joke about the rich variety of politicians in the Tory government, and neat sideswipes at the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos which hint at a bristling and dismayed anger hidden under the gags. But rather than let the rage take over, Oliver makes a suggestion that’s seemingly inspired by MP Jo Cox’s most famous quote.
It’s certainly possible that a certain portion of the audience may have bought a ticket on the strength of her TV appearances, and while Oliver doesn’t indulge the fans, there is at least a brief Doctor Who reference to satisfy the appetite. The hour speeds by with the giddy glee of a toboggan on a particularly steep slope, and Oliver comes across as the sort of mate that you’d want to spend an evening with, sinking a bottle of wine together and, crucially – not actually putting the world right – but embracing all that is right and wonderful about the world we already have. It’s a passionate, cheerful and very funny hour. Ingrid Oliver’s Speech demands to be heard: preach, sister, preach.