Isobel Marmion's one woman nervous breakdown, entitled
Unless you hate laughing, give this one a miss.
The conceit: Marmion, after suffering episodes of meningitis, appendicitis and self-loathing, finally elected—in a rare moment of clear-sightedness—to arrange her own funeral. The resulting show was an hour-long self-eulogy that frequently bordered on the pointless, and consisted entirely of unrelated, appalling vignettes.
The show combined music, interpretative dance and stand-up. First then, the stand up. While the majority of the jokes were DOA, some managed to scrape together a few laughs, including one gag about how apparent cancer symptoms, to Marmion’s relief, were actually just the side effects of a severe, deadly depression. I laughed, but I wasn't convinced I was supposed to. The rest of the jokes were similarly ambiguous. In one uncomfortable outburst, Marmion demanded a couple leave if they couldn't stop their uncontrollable giggling— for a nominal comedy show, this was a strange gamble which didn't pay off, further alienating the already miserable audience. Maybe it was a genuine confessional, and “one-woman show” literally meant “one woman, alone in a room”—in that case, we were all suckers for turning up.
The show included some more experimental set pieces, beyond the souring attempts at humour. These were bold but ineffective. At one point, following a segment on the pains of going into labour, Marmion "gave birth" to a bag of potatoes, though it was impossible to extract any salient points from her root-based histrionics. Meanwhile, an extended strip sequence made me feel less like an attendee at a comedy night and more like a captive to a deranged exhibitionist. While genuine weirdos like Candy Gigi own such surreality, Marmion’s phoned-in kookiness ended up flatlining.
There were also several feeble attempts at crowd work. In one segment, Marmion brought three people on stage to role-play her unsavoury male suitors. Inevitably, she blew the opportunity to finally eke a laugh from the by-then half-dead audience, failing to dredge up anything witty to say to the participants. A self-eulogy at the end, delivered by two more volunteers, was saccharine and self-congratulatory, and included the righteous “yeah my friends find me incredibly annoying, but I can do what I want”; I found myself wishing she couldn't.
Isobel Marmion's show eschews meaningful introspection in favour of empty, draining spectacle. Unless you hate laughing, give this one a miss.